“[The] killings [of American citizens] undertaken in accord with the public authority justification were not ‘unlawful’ because they were justified”, Says Government Memo Outlining Legal Authority for Assassination of American Citizens Abroad

I started casually reading the Second Circuit’s opinion released yesterday, June 23, 2014, in the case of New York Times, et al. v. DOJ, et al, which includes a redacted version of the government’s now infamous legal memorandum outlining legal justification for executive decisions to assassinate American citizens abroad and I could not help casually analyzing the legal arguments therein provided.

1.  The opening premise of the analysis misses the mark completely.  While common law and state statutory law historically provided “defenses” for homicide, i.e., justification and excuse, these defenses also historically only applied in the context of a prosecution of an individual’s act of homicide vis-à-vis another individual.  Justifications and excuses include the traditional defenses like self-defense, defense of others from death or great bodily harm, and mitigating elements to reduce the gravity of the crime like crimes of passion, intoxication, gross and general recklessness.

Remarkably, no one even tries to explain away the “generalization” of the analysis, which is then used to justify a state actor / government’s purported, and self-pronounced authority to commit premeditated murder precisely as defined – the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.  This is the specific intent crime of murder, which is preceded by the requirement to show the necessary the mental elements of intent to kill, i.e., premeditated murder (assassination) of a specific individual.  If this is proved, that a specific individual was targeted and killed, there is no common-law or state statutory defense to such a crime.  This is premeditated murder without justification.  Self defense requires immediacy and imminence in the harm to be exacted upon the defendant.  In other words, the only time “self defense” is a legitimate justification for the killing of another is if the act of killing is surrounded by the factual circumstances that meet the respective state’s common law or statutory law prerequisites.  (Not to mention even yet that there is no such thing as federal common law in this regard – and so the crime as identified by statute must be fulfilled by satisfaction of whatever statutory elements (and, defenses) exist in the statute).

2.  Second, even if the “public authority” justification doctrine exists in a purely federal law application (a questionable premise in itself given that, but for very limited, unique and isolated circumstances not pertinent to these situations of targeted killings of American citizens, there is no federal common law, and therefore there can be no recognition of some general federal common-law defenses to murders prosecuted under federal statutes (if the federal statute says it’s murder, then it’s murder upon proofs and if the statute does not codify a defense or defenses, then there is no common-law defense available because there is no federal common law in this regard (there might be a common-law defense to murder of an American citizen on the high seas because maritime law is one of those rare instances in which there is a recognized federal “common law” because of the jurisdiction by the federal government over defined maritime circumstances), the “doctrine” as it is regurgitated in the OCD memo merely states predicate elements to consider when addressing government or state action vis-à-vis another (entity or individual).

In its most directly applicable format when looking at this case in particular, consider what is meant by “public authority” in the context of arrests accompanied by the use of force upon an individual.  When state and/or federal law enforcement officers effectuate an arrest, and, in doing so, utilize force to subdue and detain the arrested individual they must act with prima facie public authority to engage in the specific act.  In the case of law enforcement officers that prima facie public authority is usually articulated as the performance by the officer “in the course and scope of his duties”; acting on behalf of the government in the performance of his or her official discretionary duties; etc.  So, the decision by an individual or individual law enforcement officers at the time of their actions and their discretionary decisions to effectuate an arrest is preceded by the requirement that in doing so they be acting within the scope of their public authority.

That an entity, governmental organization, or agency has general public authority to act in a variety of discretionary and ministerial ways has nothing to do with the “public authority” of officials or even government agencies to act and effectuate certain action vis-à-vis American citizens.  And, as well, as with the example of conducting an arrest of an individual, the constitutional rights of the individual must still be protected during the particular action when the individual law enforcement officer is exercising legitimate public authority to effectuate the arrest.  So, in the extreme case, when, in doing so, the law enforcement officer is required to use deadly force against the individual to protect himself or herself, his or her colleagues, or the citizenry in general, the question remains whether the officer’s individual conduct in utilizing that public authority was performed in an objectively reasonable manner and thus subject to a qualified immunity privilege.

This has nothing to do with a premeditated decision to walk up to an American citizen and assassinate them, which, when disrobed of the veiled cloth with which the government here attributes to it, is simply the same act and conduct that is being contemplated, and which has in fact been executed by the American government in this circumstance.  That there is some science fiction element to the circumstances and logistics of the act that somehow (in some people’s minds) mitigates the temporal reality of the act itself, the point of the matter is whether this act is done by a mid-level technician in a virtual-reality video game room from an operations center in Florida or California, it is still a real act of premeditated murder performed by a government authority (upon direct and specific orders) because it is an executed (indeed an executive) decision to take a lethal weapon, track down and locate a specific individual, target that individual, and execute the means to effectuate the lethal force thereby imposed.  It is as direct and blatant as one individual walking up to another specific and targeted individual on a street or in a public place and pulling a gun, pointing it at the individual and firing a shot with the specific intent to eliminate that individual’s life.  This is pure, unadulterated, premeditated murder, and there is simply no justification and excuse or defense to this crime at common law, or in state statutory law.

Justifications and defenses depend on specific factual circumstances and must be shown in every case to exist before they can be applied to the otherwise proved act of murder.  Carefully perused “footnote 12” to the memorandum is an attempt to work around this inevitable weakness in the government’s legal analysis.  It is an attempt to say that the federal statute automatically incorporates the public authority doctrine.  But that is a non-sequitur when used to extrapolate that the public authority automatically or impliedly incorporated therein can then be transmogrified into a defense of the crime of murder.

It is nothing more than saying that if a federal law enforcement officer, in the examples provided here, were prosecuted under the statute criminalizing murder being discussed here, that the federal officer could take advantage of the fact that he or she may have been acting with authority.  For example if the federal officer in effectuating an arrest of an American citizen abroad ends up using lethal force in a situation in which that force is justified by the facts and circumstances arising from the arrest itself, then presumably, the officer would be acting with the prima facie public authority he or she already had to engage in the act of the arrest, but there is no per se public authority to seek out and kill that individual rather than simply arrest him or her.  This is, again, targeted assassinations of American citizens whether or not performed by an individual operating covertly or not, or by a technician playing a video game in some bunker in the desert.  And, again, the government here tries to obfuscate the distinction between specific acts and general acts in footnote 13 to explain away this apparent anomaly.  The “public authority” doctrine is nothing more than a recognition that in performing certain acts public officials and public entities have prima facie authority to engage in acts in the performance of their ordinary governmental duties and functions – effectuating arrests, conducting searches and seizures of property (with or without a warrant), taking or condemning private property.  However, there are only a small subset of actions that are discretionary rather than ministerial and it is these types of actions that are at issue here.  It is ministerial to declare a certain swath of private property as condemnable and subject to a lawful taking (a taking of private property with adequate and just compensation by the government for the needs of the government / public).  It is ministerial to seek out and secure a search warrant to then be able to effectuate that search and seizure, which, when executed is discretionary.

Discretionary actions that are cloaked with public authority are actions that must always still be scrutinized by the conduct and actions of the officials or entities in question after the discretionary decision to act has been made.  And these are the very specific details that are scrutinized under the still and omnipresent protections of the United States Constitution, and, particularly, those individual liberties protected by the Bill of Rights – due process, right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures, 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th amendment rights are protected and cannot be swept away simply by saying the government had a predicate “public authority” to engage in the specific actions that are the subject of scrutiny when held against these ever present constitutional rights.  The public authority doctrine or “justification” is no “traditional” justification or excuse, that is to say a “defense”, to the crime of murder – like self-defense, defense of others, crimes of passion (where the specific intent is mitigated by the rage of the individual), etc.

The government, generally, and government officials in particular, always have public authority to engage in certain ministerial and discretionary acts to perform or effectuate their public duties and functions.  A police officer always has a duty to seek out, investigate, and arrest (that is to say stop or inhibit) the commission of crimes.  This is his or her function.  He or she has “public authority” to go about performing these duties and functions in his or her day-to-day job.

Likewise, prosecutors and judges have public authority to act with discretion in performing their respective duties and functions.  A large swath of the government (that is to say the majority of individual performing government functions) is supposed simply to be performing the day-to-day non-discretionary ministerial tasks of government.  They are simply bureaucratic functionaries following laws, regulations, and acting thereupon to perform day-to-day ministerial tasks.  A parking enforcement officer charged with the responsibility to issue parking citations issues the citation without discretion if a car is parked in a spot where the time on the meter is expired.  There is no discretion in the premises, nor should there be.

A government official that issues a license or a permit upon application (such as a vehicle registration renewal to remain within the example of the transportation department of government) does so upon presentation of the proper documents, license information, vehicle ownership information, insurance, etc., and does so without discretion upon payment of the proper fee.  This is, like most acts of government should be, merely ministerial.

All government officials whether performing trivial ministerial tasks or exercising discretion, act with a prima facie public authority.  But the “public authority” doctrine or defense or justification (although these latter two terms are an overly generous characterizations) stops at the threshold of the door that opens up to the rights afforded every citizen by the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution; and therefore the actions and conduct of all government officials acting with “public authority”, must still be scrutinized under the constitutional protections afforded all American citizens, whether at home and abroad when actions and conduct are effectuated upon them by the American government.

And, thus, no matter how it is stated, the public authority justification simply does not afford a defense to the premeditated, specific intent crime of targeted murder.

The government’s “conclusion” therefore that “citizenship” provides no basis for concluding the federal murder statute does not incorporate “the established public authority justification for a killing” is a vacuous proposition because it is based on the equally vapid conclusion that the “public authority” doctrine or justification is a defense to premeditated murder.  That is as blatantly wrong as it sounds.

Even more preposterous is the conclusion, a few sentences later, in which the government rewrites history with this invented defense to murder by stating that “[a]t the time of the predecessor versions of the [federal statute criminalizing murder by U.S. citizens of U.S. citizens abroad] were enacted, it was understood that killings undertaken in accord with the public authority justification were not “unlawful” because they were justified”  OCD Memo, as redacted, at p. 75 of the opinion.  I would challenge the government to provide an example of this statement.

It is such an absurd statement, I have to repeat it.  The government states that “it was understood that a killing undertaken in accord with the public authority justification was not “unlawful” because it was “justified”.  Aside from the rather loose utilization of the term “killing”, as if we are talking about slaughter of sheep, and we may indeed be, I would challenge the government to demonstrate a case in which a “killing” was undertaken with public authority and was therefore justified by the mere virtue of the existence of that public authority.  Not to cheapen the grave tone in which I am writing on this topic, but this memorandum is going to provide a “field day” for Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists.  Clearly, if the CIA or the government has to retroactively rewrite the history of the common law to come up with a non-existent legal defense to publicly authorized and executed assassinations of American citizens to avoid being charged with outright murder, then certainly, they have done a great job of that here.  To what prior “killings” is the government referring to here where we have had the opportunity to apply the public authority justification for the murder of an American citizen, notwithstanding there was and is no such defense to the crime of murder?

And, to entertain the false premise, who was it “understood” by?  Was the defense presented to a judge or a court of law?  Was it addressed even in a single legal treatise, or even, a desperately concocted law review article?  What is a “killing undertaken in accord with the public authority justification”?

Certainly, I would concede that a “killing” of an individual by a law enforcement officer in the performance of an arrest where the arrested individual has the immediate means to and resorts to use deadly force and/or does threaten the life of the arresting officer and/or his or her colleagues, or even the citizenry in general, that the “killing” in that circumstance would be defensible, but not by any ethereal “public authority” justification.  The “killing” is “justified” because it was executed in self defense or in defense of others from threat of death or great bodily harm at the moment it occurred.  The law enforcement officer would not be subject to criminal prosecution for murder.  He would also be able to avail himself of the privilege of qualified immunity from a civil liability lawsuit brought under federal law pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, among other federal statutes and constitutional provisions, and presumably, he or she would be similarly protected under the state-law equivalents of immunity depending on the jurisdiction in which the act occurred.

But what does the vague “public authority” doctrine, or “defense”, or “justification” do to protect a premeditated, unprovoked, and targeted assassination of an American citizen that is clearly not executed for the immediate reason of a need to protect the life of oneself, of others, or of the public in general?

The answer is “Nothing!”  Because there is no such absurd and asinine thing as a “public authority” justification or defense to the crime of murder.  Simply put, the government executed an American citizen and when it was questionable whether a murder charge could be brought against it or the individuals or individual that ordered it, the Department of Justice retroactively invented a non-existent common-law defense to the crime of first-degree, premeditated murder or assassination.

More troubling, however, is the OCD memorandum’s reference to statutory authority in the Patriot Act as a means of justifying the targeted assassination by the American government of American citizens upon executive order.  I will address this analysis later.  For now, you can read the imbecilic “legal” analysis contained in the government’s memorandum in this opinion released June 23, 2014.  By the way, the Court ordered release of the memorandum on or about June 10 (in a previously redacted form), but the government immediately moved for an injunction for the release, and a rehearing.  The opinion released on June 23 contains an additionally redacted version.

I updated this post with some important legal authority.

Amicus Curious

I have written in the past about unconstitutional usurpation of Constitutional Sheriffs’ arrest powers.  I have also mentioned that whimsical and hastily made decisions that attempt to eradicate by sweeping measures time-honored common-law rules and principles are a threat to the respective states’ sovereignty.

As I have also mentioned, if the citizenry of a state allows its Executive or Legislative branches to disenfranchise it and remove its choice to elect its own chief law enforcement officer in the respective counties or parishes as the case may be, then not much can be done but to educate that citizenry about the folly of its ignorance in this regard.  It is, ultimately, although I would contend only, through a state’s constitution that a citizenry can make choices ultimately surrendering their sovereign right to govern themselves.  This is of the very essence of the privilege of our liberty and the responsibility of our…

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In 2004 Department of Justice Opines Second Amendment Secures Individual Right to Bear Arms — What’s Changed?

As promised, attached is a memorandum of law penned by the Department of Justice in 2004 for the U.S. Attorney General.  It is a thorough, well-researched, and well-written article that comes to the inescapable, correct conclusion about this issue.  What has changed since 2004 as it relates to the constitutional right?


Since this memorandum of law was written, the United States Supreme Court has affirmed this conclusion as the correct conclusion in the two following cases from 2008 and 2010.

District of Columbia v Heller

McDonald v City of Chicago Ill

“Constitutionally Protected Rights are Guarded with Particular Vigor Precisely when Public Opinion Turns Against Them”

The title of this post is a quote from an article in the Wall Street Journal written by David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman.  I attach the article below.

The quote significantly captures the reason the Bill of Rights is soundly insulated from the passing whims of political and social crises, and the resulting fervor with which some or another political party seek to erode those rights by unconstitutional measures.

David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman_ Gun Control and the Constitution – WSJ

First Principles: Each State Is Responsible to Its Own Citizens for Protection and Public Safety

I have written in the past about unconstitutional usurpation of Constitutional Sheriffs’ arrest powers.  I have also mentioned that whimsical and hastily made decisions that attempt to eradicate by sweeping measures time-honored common-law rules and principles are a threat to the respective states’ sovereignty.

As I have also mentioned, if the citizenry of a state allows its Executive or Legislative branches to disenfranchise it and remove its choice to elect its own chief law enforcement officer in the respective counties or parishes as the case may be, then not much can be done but to educate that citizenry about the folly of its ignorance in this regard.  It is, ultimately, although I would contend only, through a state’s constitution that a citizenry can make choices ultimately surrendering their sovereign right to govern themselves.  This is of the very essence of the privilege of our liberty and the responsibility of our freedom earned by the blood of our forefathers in their violent separation from the tyranny of Britain.

Sadly, many hastily made decisions to implement immediate regulatory measures, which decisions are formulated in the face of apparent (or real) crises, threaten to erode the very fabric of self-governance and constitutional republicanism upon which this country was founded.  This is true because the extent and magnitude of these crises are leveraged as justifying an end-run around the proper constitutional means by which such actions must occur.

This is true, as well, of the debate concerning gun control, because at its root the arming of the citizenry (whether or not one agrees it is an individual right under the Second Amendment, or, only a collective right of each states’ constitutionally authorized militia (the latter of which is a right every Justice on the Supreme Court save perhaps Justice Kagan has agreed the amendment guarantees)), is ultimately a right that can only be regulated and controlled by the collective wisdom of the citizens of the respective sovereign states.  But, see my recent exposition on the subject, which includes unequivocal support for the former proposition, that the right to bear arms is indeed an individual right.  Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms is an Individual Constitutional Right

An historical look at the Constitutional Convention reveals the true significance of state sovereignty within the greater plan for our fledgling federalist nation.   The “plan of the convention” as can be elicited from the historical materials, United States Supreme Court opinions, and the text of the Tenth Amendment draws a basic distinction between the powers of the newly created federal government and the powers retained by the preexisting, sovereign states.  Chief Justice Marshall explained in the landmark decision of Sturges v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. 122, 193; 4 L.Ed. 529 (1819) that “it was neither necessary nor proper [for the Convention, and ultimately the Constitution] to define the powers retained by the States.  These powers proceed, not from the people of America, but from the people of the several States; and remain, after the adoption of the constitution, what they were before, except so far as they may be abridged by that instrument.”  (emphasis added).

This classic reiteration by Chief Justice Marshall directly endorsed Hamilton’s reasoning in the Federalist No. 32, that the plan of the constitutional convention did not contemplate “[a]n entire consolidation of the States into one complete national sovereignty.”  Only a partial, and limited consolidation was envisioned, in which “the State governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and which were not, by that act, exclusively delegated to the United States.”  The Federalist No. 32, at 198 (emphasis added).

The text of the Tenth Amendment unambiguously affirmed this principle:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The significance of this formulation and the subsequent jurisprudence interpreting the Tenth Amendment (at least, for the most part, up until the ill-advised and unfortunate Garcia decision, which, for a time reduced the Tenth Amendment to little more than a truism as stated by some commentators) is that whatever powers the individual states had before the new federal government was created were forever preserved and galvanized against federal usurpation.

Moreover, any powers delegated to the United States, as opposed to the States’ retained, yet unwritten powers of sovereignty, had to be expressly vested in the new government by the Constitution itself.  What this means to me is that federal powers cannot be created by implication, imaginative interpretation or by the stretching of the words and language of the Constitution; those powers have to be expressly granted to the federal government.  Further, in order to divest a State of its retained powers of sovereignty, the Constitution also had to expressly do that.  Again, doctrines of implication and interpretive wizardry designed to create substantive rights guaranteed and restricting prohibitions imposed by the Constitution cannot suffice to divest the States of their retained sovereignty, because these rights and restrictions, respectively, and the means to create or impose them, respectively, simply do not exist in the document itself.  And, by express design in the architecture of that instrument, this is the case.

One of the most, if not the most, inherent attributes of State sovereignty is to protect its people, i.e., public safety – perhaps, as Justice Campbell of the Michigan Supreme Court noted long ago, the most important prerogative of the State.  As another of the Big Four Justices noted, courts, at least, have been intelligent enough to know to preserve these principles by reference to the organic document of government that is the respective states’ constitutions until the people themselves are unwise enough to undo them.

Although much criticism can be lodged at the Delaware Attorney General and harsh admonitions can be lodged against its General Assembly for attempting to usurp the Constitutional Sheriffs’ arrest powers in that state, it has to be pointed out that it is the individual citizens in that state who must realize that they are on the cusp of surrendering one of the most fundamental rights that they have.  In allowing the attempted divestiture of the Sheriff’s’ rights, indeed their duties, to protect them, the citizens of Delaware threaten to surrender a right that may never be recovered absent some epic event.  While these events touch upon the Tenth Amendment because they threaten to erode Delaware’s power to govern its own constitutional and sovereign destiny, it is ultimately up to the State itself (and more particularly its citizenry) to properly protect its sovereign powers.  That starts with respecting its own Constitutional History in the Plan of the Convention.

Indeed, we are still today dealing with a new federal government and our collective states’ rights of sovereignty and the powers and duties that follow are a retained, original and unflappable reality that long preceded the formation of the new federal government.  It is up to each state (and particularly to each of its individual citizens) to assert and protect these rights to the fullest extent possible.

“The power of the federal government would be augmented immeasurably if it were able to impress into its service – at no cost to itself – the police officers of the 50 states.”  Printz v. U.S., 521 U.S. 898, 922 (1997).  James Madison wrote that “[t]he practicality of making laws, with coercive sanctions, for the States as political bodies, exploded on all hands.”  2 Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, p. 9 (M. Farrand ed. 1991).

At least, at the convention, the States were wise enough and sensible enough to realize the dangers of surrendering the liberty of their Citizens to the powers of a centralized government.  Thus they objected to the proposition of allowing coercive power to be written into the Constitution.

And the United States Supreme Court made clear in Printz that the federal government could not conscript the states’ police forces; it could not employ the law enforcement officers of the several states to perform a function or execute any law that Congress purported to have the authority to pass.  Such power was as impotent as the law from which it sprang was not viable.

But what of the voluntary surrender by an executive officer of state government of this fundamental right and liberty of a state’s citizens?  What happens when a political body, i.e., the legislature, the judiciary, and / or an executive acts in ways, within its own state, that eviscerates the liberties of its own citizens and surrenders them, involuntarily, to some other power or entity?

Accountability of local and state politicians is the only way that the promise and design of the U.S. Constitution, and by extension, of each of the respective states’ constitutions, can thrive and function.  Such purported lawful actions and conduct are a usurpation of the Citizen’s inviolable independence to choose the means by which he or she shall be regulated.  Such actions, when executed without proper legal and political procedures, threaten the very fabric of the balance between federal and state power, because the power of the former is derived from the latter.  Thus, if the state purports to act without delegation or authority for that particular function by its own People, it has violated the solemn promise to protect its own and, in doing so, creates a void in which federal power can breed and fester.

To be sure, the United States Supreme Court “never has sanctioned explicitly a federal command to the States to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations.”  FERC v. Mississippi, 456 U.S. 742, 761-62 (1982).

This fairly solid barrier placed between federal regulation and a state’s retained sovereignty is rooted in the fundamental concept of federalism that is ingrained in the Constitution.  The states, in agreeing to enter into that charter, surrendered not one jot or tittle of their sovereignty when it came to the orderly administration and maintenance of public safety and welfare.  Not only is this one of the “inherent attributes of sovereignty” retained by the States per the Tenth Amendment, but too, it is one that is expressly reserved to them by the Second Amendment militia clause.  As mentioned earlier, with the exception of Justice Kagan (whose position on the issue I am not familiar with) the remaining Justices on the current Supreme Court (liberal and conservative) who might disagree that the Second Amendment contains and “individual” right, they all agree that, if anything, it preserves the individual states’ rights to maintain an organized militia.  This is evident not only in the writings that preceded the Constitution, but too it has pervaded judicial decisions related to the subject since.

This principle does nothing to protect the states from themselves if its citizens do not attempt to assert their constitutional right to the maintenance of a republican form of government.  See US Const Art IV, § 4 (“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government….”).  If by the act of a single executive official, local citizens are stripped of their power to choose who performs the law enforcement function in their own counties, then they have been disenfranchised without the ability of recourse.  This is what has occurred in Delaware, where the Attorney General, on his own volition, has written an opinion purporting to remove the Sheriffs’ arrest authorities in that state.  And, sadly, it is occurring elsewhere by other inappropriate means.  See, e.g., Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  If, as is the threat in Delaware and perhaps Pennsylvania, these measures are undertaken by the legislative bodies of these respective states, the incarnation of the citizens’ will in those sovereign jurisdictions, then absent a successful constitutional challenge, the people will be deemed to have voluntarily surrendered their rights to choose by free elections, who will shield and protect them within their own communities.  The further removed that authority is from accountability to the people, the easier it is for the former to suppress the latter without fear of recourse.

To be sure, the executive branch (whether through the governor or the attorney general) cannot do this alone.  As Madison expressed it:  “[T]he local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere.”  The Federalist No. 39, at 245.  In this instance, what is even more egregious is that this has occurred without the expression of federal power, however unlawful, exerted upon the state.  But that expression is not far behind.  For the natural consequence of a vacuum of power, especially that concerning public safety and crime, is that a stronger force will be called upon to occupy.

It is for the Citizens of every state to choose their own constitutional destiny and realize the promise of liberty and the responsibility of freedom.  Let not a crisis be the catalyst to cause the Citizens of the respective states to abandon the former and withdraw from the benefits of the latter, and thereby, however unwittingly, surrender their individual liberties to an unknown fate.

Happy New Year!