25 November 2004

Commerce Clause vs. 21st Amendment

The “commerce clause” and the 21st amendment’s will face off in a case to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 7th. The commerce clause has traditionally been held to prohibit per-state restrictions on interstate commerce. The 21st amendment however contains the following language:

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

So can states actually regulate interstate commerce by blocking importation of alcohol in ways that may inhibit interstate commerce? We’ll find out sooner or later…

I happened across this story in the WSJ. A few press outlets have talked about the story including The Detroit News. Search Google News for possibly relevant articles. Although there hasn’t been a lot of coverage of the ways that this sort of deregulation could influence other markets and deregulation pushes there.

21 November 2004

Combined Federal Blacklist Campaign

Generally we have done our donations to charitable causes through the CFC. Federal employees in King County donated $2.8 million to the various charities in CFC last year. In the past, we were able to donate to groups including the Cascade Land Conservancy (a group that buys land or conservation easements on property in Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties), the ACLU (a group dedicated to preserving our ability to speak, move and act free of government interference), and the EFF (a group dedicated to preserving the Internet as free and open for sharing of all data).

Things are different this year. As we perused the CFC booklet for the folks we usually donate to, a number of organizations were missing. Try as we might, we couldn’t find the ACLU, EFF, the Sierra Club, Amnesty International or a variety of other groups. This struck us as quite odd. These are well respected non-profit groups, that is outside of claims by radical clerics that the ACLU caused God’s wrath on 9/11.

As it turns out, the CFC had added a new requirement that non-profits who received funds from federal employees’ donations into CFC had to vet their employment and volunteer rosters against a government supplied blacklist of “terrorists”. If they found any matches they were required to inform federal authorities and fire the employee until resolution. This is the same sort of blacklist that keeps Cat Stevens from visiting the United States. Both the ACLU and the EFF strongly believe that a person’s employment and volunteer efforts are a matter between that person and the organization they work for. That’s what freedom of association and presumption of innocence is all about. Being a known felon convicted of a crime in a trial is one thing, being added to a list with no opportunity to contest your inclusion is quite another.

Once on the “terrorist volunteer” list or the “no-fly” list or Sen. McCarthy’s “communist sympathizer” list, it is extraordinarily difficult to get removed. It took Sen. Ted Kennedy talking to Tom Ridge and several weeks to get the TSA to remove him from the “no-fly” list. I can’t presume that this list imposed on non-profits would be any easier to get removed from. Especially when the list is not publicly available and there is no contact for removal.

Things such as this are uniquely anti-American. They chisel away at the freedoms and values that once set us apart form the rest of the world. Federal employees and other citizens who would like to complain to the head of the CFC about this policy, can contact the Director of CFC at:
Mara Patermaster
Combined Federal Campaign
Office of Personnel Management
1900 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20415-1000

In the meantime, you can still donate to the ACLU, the EFF, the Sierra Club, and any of the other groups that you might normally give to under the CFC.