The gun control package

The President has issued sweeping new gun control measures, a combination of Congressional proposals and 23 executive orders that go into effect immediately.  Details on exactly what the measures are, as well as a list of the executive orders are linked after the jump.  From The Washington Post:

“President Obama on Wednesday formally proposed the most expansive gun-control policies in generations and initiated 23 separate executive actions aimed at curbing what he called “the epidemic of gun violence in this country.” [Read more…]

My prediction has already come true

On January 1, one week ago, I predicted in our annual exercise that someone would propose amending the Constitution to allow Barack Obama to serve a third term.   It has already happened:

Democratic New York Rep. Jose Serrano reintroduced a bill in Congress Friday to repeal the 22nd Amendment, which places term limits on the U.S. presidency.

The bill, which has been referred to committee, would allow Barack President Obama to become the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to seek a third term in office.

H.J. Res. 15 proposes “an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the twenty-second article of amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as President.”

via New York congressman introduces bill to abolish presidential term limits | The Daily Caller.

The presidential election was held yesterday

The Electoral College cast its ballots on Monday.  The results won’t be official, though, until Congress counts the vote on January 6.

Electoral college set to vote on President Obama’s reelection – The Washington Post.

Is this an anachronism or wisdom from our nation’s Founders?  Could the process for choosing a president be improved?  What if state legislatures simply chose the electors from each state, cutting the public out of it, as was apparently the original intention?  Would this result in a de-politicized chief executive, and might this be a good thing?

A tie in the Electoral College?

One possibility in the election:  Both candidates get 269 electoral votes, resulting in a tie.  From Napp Nazworth:

In a Thursday blog post, University of Virginia political scientists Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley point out that a tie in the electoral college, 269-269, is a real possibility.

For the Electoral College to end in a tie, Romney would win Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, and Virginia. Obama would win Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin.

Given recent polls, this scenario is not hard to imagine. It shows each candidate winning states where polls show them polling slightly better than their opponent, with one exception — Nevada. Sabato, Kondik and Skelley point out that of all the states on the 269-269 map, Romney winning Nevada is the least likely.

According to Article II, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution, if the Electoral College is tied, the newly elected House of Representatives will choose the president with each state delegation getting one vote.

Given current projections for the U.S. House races, Kondik predicts that in a tie race Romney would become president. He would receive the votes of at least 29 state delegations, while Obama would receive the votes of at least 15 state delegations, and six state delegations would either be tied or too close to call.

via Presidential Race: Electoral College Outcome Could Be 269-269.

Theoretically, with an even 50 states, under those rules the House could also split 25 to 25.  We need to admit a 51st state fast.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday

Yesterday had been declared “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” by a group of activist pastors and a conservative legal organization.  Over a thousand pastors purposefully violated the law by endorsing, by name, a political candidate, something non-profit organizations are not allowed to do.  They recorded their endorsement sermons and are all going to send a copy to the IRS.

The idea is to force the IRS to take action against them, setting up a court challenge on the grounds that the law violates the Constitution’s guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  See Pastors to take on IRS in plan to preach politics from the pulpit | Fox News.

Did any of you pastors take part in this act of civil disobedience?  Did any of you attend a church where this happened?  Do you know of any Lutheran churches that participated (which would seem to be a clear violation not only of the secular law but of Lutheran doctrine with its Two Kingdoms theology)?

Doesn’t this violate Romans 13?  Shouldn’t the churches that did this lose their tax exempt status?  After all, civil disobedience includes taking the punishment for violating the law.  If churches want to exercise a political authority–something that the Reformation utterly opposed when the Pope did this sort of thing–shouldn’t they just abandon their tax exempt status so they can function like other political organizations?  Is it really unconstitutional?  Or is there a case to be made for Pulpit Freedom Sunday?  If so, what is it?

How illegal immigrants inflate the electoral college

Illegal immigrants and other non-citizens don’t have the right to vote, of course.  But, as required by the Constitution, they ARE counted in the census that determines the population of states for the allocation of congressional representatives.  That means a state with large numbers of non-citizens can get more electoral votes, which determine presidential elections, than it would have otherwise.  The breakdown favors the Democrats.  Leonard Steinhorn, a professor at American University, gives the analysis:

An Obama victory could hinge on a quirk in the Constitution that gives noncitizens, a group that includes illegal immigrants and legal permanent residents, a say in electing the president of the United States.

As required by Article I and the Fourteenth Amendment, the decennial census, which allocates to each state its congressional seats and Electoral College votes, is based on a count of all people who live in the United States, citizens and noncitizens alike — or as the Constitution phrases it, “the whole number of persons in each state.” That means millions of noncitizens who are ineligible to vote are included in Electoral College calculations, and that benefits some states over others. Most of these noncitizens are here legally; however, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that about 45 percent of noncitizens are undocumented immigrants.

In 2010 and most previous years, the census did not inquire about citizenship, but the American Community Survey (ACS), which samples our population every month, includes a breakdown of citizens and noncitizens. Plugging the 2010 ACS citizen-only numbers into the Census Bureau’s apportionment formula shows that five states benefit electorally from their noncitizen populations: New York, Florida and Washington each gain one congressional seat and thus one Electoral College vote; Texas gains two; and California — with 5,516,920 noncitizens out of a total population of 37,341,989 — gains five.

Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Montana each lose a seat under the official formula as compared with an apportionment that counts citizens only. . . .

Looking at how the states might vote in November, there is no scenario in which Mitt Romney benefits from the inclusion of noncitizens in the Electoral College calculation, but there are several in which Obama could gain three to five Electoral College votes, thus deciding a close election.

via Without voting, noncitizens could swing the election for Obama – The Washington Post.

Prof. Steinhorn gives some reasons why it makes sense to count everybody, citizen or not, though he says the impact on presidential elections needs to be remedied by eliminating the electoral college.

Do you have any other solutions?  Or is this not really a problem?