Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has undertaken a vast scheme against Russian economic actors, which it characterizes as "sanctions." The scheme consists in seizing assets, freezing assets, and prohibiting lawful and constitutionally protected commercial transactions.
All of this is aimed at dissuading Russian President Vladimir Putin from his determination to use extreme state violence to neutralize the government of Ukraine and install a government more favorable to the Kremlin. Yet, the targets of these sanctions are neither Putin nor the Russian state. Rather, his friends and political supporters, as well as Russian banks and commercial entities, and even American banks and commercial entities, have been targeted -- and hundreds of millions of consumers and investors have been harmed.
By prohibiting the use of assets and international money transfers, the sanctions have severely harmed folks in Russia who have nothing to do with Putin's war by radically reducing their purchasing power and eliminating many everyday choices from their spending options. All of this was done by presidential edict.
Can the president constitutionally prevent Americans and foreign persons from the lawful use of their own assets and from engaging freely in lawful commercial transactions?
In a word: No.
Here is the backstory.
The Constitution was written to establish the federal government and to limit it. The same document that delegates to Congress the power to keep interstate and foreign commerce regular also prohibits the states in the Contracts Clause from interfering in private contracts. But there was originally no comparable prohibition restraining the federal government.
In 1791, James Madison, the author of the Constitution, argued as a member of the House of Representatives against legislation establishing the First National Bank of the United States because he feared federal control of commerce. Of course, it became law, caused recessions and was sunset 20 years later.
Yet in 1816, shortly before the end of his second term in the White House, Madison caved to corporatism and signed into law the Second National Bank of the United States. After its constitutionality was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1824, the feds insinuated themselves into all sorts of economic activity, none of it enhancing personal liberty, all of it favoring their patrons.
While still a congressman, and fearing federal insinuation into commerce, Madison authored the Bill of Rights -- the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. He crafted the Fifth Amendment to protect life, liberty and property from the government.
By requiring due process -- a trial at which the federal government must prove fault -- prior to interfering with any person's life, liberty or property, Madison arguably crafted more restraints on the feds than the original Constitution imposed upon the states.
Similarly, by requiring a search warrant issued by a neutral judge based on sworn testimony of probable cause of crime before the feds could seize any person or tangible thing, Madison again added strength and vitality to his understanding of the Constitution's protections of the primacy of the individual with respect to property and privacy.
Both the Fourth and the Fifth Amendments protect all "people" and every "person," not just Americans. This is critical to an understanding of why the sanctions imposed by the Biden administration -- upon those as to whom there has been no due process or against whom there have been no search warrants issued -- are profoundly unconstitutional.
For generations, the government argued that the rights to privacy and due process protected Americans only. In the post-World War II era, the feds have lost those arguments.
Thus, when the feds seize a yacht from a person whom they believe may have financed Putin's political rise to power, or even his personal lifestyle, they are doing so in direct violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Similarly, when they freeze foreign assets in American banks, they engage in a seizure, and seizures can only constitutionally be done with a search warrant.
As well, when the feds interfere -- whether by presidential edict or congressional legislation -- with contract rights by prohibiting compliance with lawful contracts, that, too, implicates due process and can only be done constitutionally after a jury verdict in the government's favor from a trial at which the feds have proven fault.
As if to anticipate these constitutional roadblocks to its interference with free commercial choices by investors, workers and consumers, Congress enacted the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 and the Magnitsky Act of 2016. These constitutional aberrations purport to give the president the power to declare persons and entities to be violators of human rights and, by that mere executive declaration, to punish them without trial.
These laws turn the Fourth and Fifth Amendments on their heads by punishing first and engaging in a perverse variant of due process later.
How perverse? If the feds seize assets or interfere with contracts involving foreign ownership or interests, and the victims want justice, the persons or entities whose assets have been seized or whose contractual rights have been diminished must consent to the jurisdiction of American courts and prove that they are NOT human rights violators.
These statutes are a federal version of "Alice in Wonderland," whereby the punished person or entity must prove innocence. Such a burden defies all American concepts of property ownership, fairness and due process. It is antithetical to our history, repugnant to our values and mocks the Constitution that all in government have sworn to uphold. All persons are presumed innocent. The government must always prove fault.
The restrictions that the Constitution imposes upon the federal government have no emergency exceptions, nor are they theoretical or fanciful. They were crafted by men who knew and had tasted the torments of unbridled government power. They wrote the restrictions to assure that the new federal government could not do to Americans what the British had done to them.
They failed !!
Andrew P Napolitano
OBAMA / OBIDEN, IF YOU KEEP PUTTING OUT THERE… “EMP, EMP, EMP”… AND JUST LIKE UKRAINE…BEGGING RUSSIA TO ATTACK…
IT WILL HAPPEN AND YOU TWO ASSHOLES WILL HAVE KILLED ALL OF US… AND YOU, OBAMA, WILL HAVE NOBODY AND NOTHING, TO RULE!
The instant a country initiates a missile launch we know from where it was launched, who did it, (what country), the type of launch, the direction and after minutes, a good idea where it’s heading.
If you don’t order an immediate, devastating, retaliation…an annihilation… of whoever did it, there will be none…absolutely, no retaliation, and the United States will die!
Airplanes and 500,000 people in the air, will fall from the sky. All electric will stop and cease to exist for years…decades!
You buffoons will have not only killed America but will also have killed many who were traveling in computer controlled vehicles…there will NOT be anyone for you to Rule as Socialists…you will have eliminated any future for anything that was!
Anyone of your advisors who is/are telling you otherwise doesn’t know shit!
Nobody will die from the blast or blasts nor Radiation. We will all, eventually, revert back to the dark ages…no refrigeration, no fuel, no food, no generators that survive an EMP, no banks, no FDIC, no Rule of Law because all the enforcers (police and military) will be fighting to save themselves and protect their own families! No food except what we kill, no water except what we purify, nothing…you morons have no concept what devastation will take place, from your greed, stupidity, recklessness. AND, if you two geniuses shut down our grid, as I personally believe you will try to do (and blame someone else)…it will have the same effect as an EMP! Making you two…our enemies!!!
UNLESS…and I am very serious…UNLESS…you park our Trident fleet of Submarines in close proximity to Russia, China, N Korea and …Iran with orders to completely destroy which ever one launched, that attack on us…and then make certain those morons understand that our Subs will launch an attack on all 4 Nations if there are no orders to step down…because we cannot transmit or don’t want to!
In other words …if we get hit from an EMP device, from anybody…we will kill them …if we cannot identify who did it, within the few minutes we will have…we will launch an all-out attack on all 4 Nations that we believe has the capability, because we know they will attack us if we’re hit with an EMP from anywhere!!!
Let them understand, that they will be committing suicide!
Keep in mind, just one nuclear missile, from a Trident Sub, carries numerous, GPS guided war heads and once locked on, cannot be stopped! Just one missile can wipe out every major city in either Russian, China, Iran or ALL of N Korea… 4 missiles…4 enemies gone, too…see you in Hell!
You, Obama, are out of control…we know what you are doing! Cloward and Piven said to weaken the US…not destroy her! If you leave us helpless, without electric power, you will never be able to repair what you did! Certainly, not enough to make Allah proud of you…not if there’s nothing left!
Besides…what makes you think, that with all the millions of armed Americans, who hate you, that you will even survive to rule, after you have destroyed our Republic?
Listen, here’s the deal, Venezuela is an oil rich country, albite, their product needs cleaning. It’s still valuable and they need a Commie leader, like you. Why not go down there with your black ops and do your thing there? We’ll let all the damage that you have caused go and let bye-gones be bye-gones…but if you destroy much more…we won’t be able to forgive and forget…get it? P.S. take Soros with you!
March is the absolute height of tourism season on Fort Myers Beach. Between residents and Seasonals to Spring Breakers and Spring Training fans, there is always something for everyone on Fort Myers Beach, so while on our 7-mile island, add a visit the iconic Mound House! One of Southwest Florida’s most-beloved historic sites, the Mound House traces its roots to the ancient Calusa of over 2,000 years ago.
Celebrate “Archaeology Month” on Saturday, March 19, as the Southwest Florida Archaeological Society presents “Calusa Coastal Days” at the Mound House! In addition to the Mound House Museum being open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., it offers a “Guided Kayak Tour” at 9 a.m.; “Cool Calusa Tools” at 10 a.m.; “Shell Mound Tours” at 11 a.m. & 1 p.m.; and the “Family Fun Kayak Tour” at 2 p.m. The Kayak Tours require advance reservations at 239-765-0865 or www.moundhouse.org.
As the oldest standing structure on Estero Island, the Town of Fort Myers Beach operates the Mound House as a museum complex and cultural and environmental learning experience that offers numerous monthly entertainment and educational programs, including for children. The Mound House is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., enforces Social Distancing guidelines and requests that all unvaccinated visitors wear masks. It is at 451 Connecticut Street with overflow parking at 216 Connecticut. Admission is $10 for ages 13 & up, $8 for students with IDs, $5 ages 6 to 12, and 5 & under free, with Fort Myers Beach residents receiving a 50% museum admission discount. For information, reservations, and a monthly programs schedule, call 239-765-0865 or see www.moundhouse.org.
Shell Mound Tour
For all ages every March Tuesday through Saturday at 11 am & 1 pm.
If you dig archaeology, the Mound House’s signature program is for you! Tour the one-of-a-kind underground 2,000-year-old Calusa Indian Shell Mound, explore the site’s archaeology to unearth clues about this ancient society. $5-per-person that does not include Mound House admission; Free for members.
FREE: Newton Beach Park ‘Guided Beach Walk’
For all ages every Tuesday and Thursday weather permitting at 9 am.
This twice-weekly free outdoor nature program is different every single time, walk roughly a half-mile down the beach and back, discussing whatever you find that morning. Meet at the thatched hut closest to the beach, with Social Distancing in place. Bring sunscreen, shoes to get wet, sunglasses and hat. No reservations necessary; while free, parking is $5-per-hour, with one hour generally enough. Newton Beach Park, 4650 Estero Boulevard.
Cool Calusa Tools
For families with children ages 6 & older every March Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday at 10 a.m.
Learn to hunt, fish, and make masks and pottery, just like the Calusa! In this exciting hands-on tour of the Mound House grounds where staff demonstrate Calusa tools and artifacts, then help you make Calusa-inspired artwork where your imagination runs wild! $5-per-person that does not include Mound House admission, Free for members.
For all ages every March Tuesday & Friday at 2 p.m.
Stroll through the Mound House gardens to discover how its unique plants conserve water and protect wildlife, while learning how the Calusa and other Native Americans used them in their daily lives. $5-per-person that does not include Mound House admission; Free for members.
Latino History Tour
For all ages every March Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Perfect for Florida history buffs! Learn about the Latino fishing village known as a “Rancho” that existed on the shell mound between the ancient Calusa and Anglo-Pioneer eras. Explore the site’s archaeology and history through unearthed clues about this multicultural society. $5-per-person that does not include Mound House admission, Free for members.
Guided Kayak Tour
For ages 12 & up every March Wednesday through Saturday at 9 am as well as Thursday, March 31, at 2 pm.
Explore the winding mangrove creeks and hidden waters of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve as only a kayaker can on this Environmental Educator-guided tour of the ancient realm of the Calusa! Witness birds, fish, manatee and dolphins as you paddle through the natural beauty of Estero and Hell Peckney Bays in a tandem kayak. All paddling & safety equipment provided; $45-per-person with Mound House members $15 that includes Mound House admission. Advance reservations necessary at www.moundhouse.org
Archaeology: Can You Dig It?
For all ages every March Wednesday & Friday at 10 a.m.
Learn what it takes to be an archaeologist! Handle real artifacts and discover how archaeologists study past cultures in a program perfect for families. $5-per-person that does not include Mound House admission, with Mound House members free.
Family Fun Kayak Tour
For ages 6 & up weather permitting every March Wednesday & Saturday, as well as Thursday, March 24, all at 2 p.m.
This specially-designed Environmental Educator-guided kayak tour is perfect fun for families with children ages 6 & up! See birds, dolphins, manatee, and other wildlife while paddling through the Estero Bay mangroves. $25-per-person ages 13 & up; $15-per-person ages 6 to 12 that includes Mound House admission. Equipment provided. Advance registrations necessary at www.moundhouse.org.
Full Moon Kayak Tour
For ages 12 & up on Friday, March 18, at 6 p.m.
This unique tour offers kayakers the rare opportunity to experience the backwaters of the Estero Bay in the quiet of twilight by the light of the full moon! Participants explore the estuary’s tidal creeks, winding mangroves, and abundant wildlife illuminated by the full moon. Weather permitting and reservations required at www.moundhouse.org; $45-per-person with Mound House members $15. The Mound House provides all paddling equipment.
Sunset Kayak Tour
Ages 12 & up weather permitting on Friday, March 25, at 5:45 p.m.
In addition to catching a breathtaking sunset, explore the tidal creeks and winding mangrove tunnels that extend into the hidden backwaters of Estero Bay while experiencing the estuary’s abundant wildlife in the quiet of twilight. Equipment provided. $45-per-person; Mound House members $15, with advance registrations necessary at www.moundhouse.org.