Late last month, the Supreme Court ruled on a challenge to a question that the Commerce Department announced it would add to the 2020 census. The census itself has been mandated by the Constitution to be taken every 10 years so that representation in the House of Representatives could be fairly apportioned to reflect population changes.

Over the years, the folks who prepare the census developed an appetite for peering into the personal lives of everyone living in America, and Congress -- which has the same mentality as the Census bureaucrats -- permitted this. So, the Census Bureau began adding personal questions in the census itself.

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s2smodern

The Declaration of Independence -- released on July 4, 1776 -- was Thomas Jefferson's masterpiece. Jefferson himself wrote much about it in essays and letters during the 50 years that followed.

Not the least of what he wrote offered his view that the Declaration and the values that it articulated were truly radical -- meaning they reflected 180-degree changes at the very core of societal attitudes in America. The idea that farmers and merchants and lawyers could secede from a kingdom and fight and win a war against the king's army was the end result of the multigenerational movement that was articulated in the Declaration and culminated in the American Revolution.

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"...nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb..." --Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The government in America is out of control.

Last week, this column discussed the unconstitutional efforts of federal prosecutors in Chicago to punish an American citizen for crimes that had not yet been committed. This week, I address the wish of federal prosecutors in Alabama to charge and to punish a man for a crime for which he had already been convicted and punished.

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Last week, special counsel Robert Mueller -- who had been appointed by the Department of Justice two years earlier to investigate the nature and extent of Russian attempts to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and to determine, if those attempts did occur, whether the Russians had any willing American collaborators in the Trump campaign -- came to the cameras and announced his resignation. He also underscored some of his findings and did so in such a manner as to gin up House Democrats in their march toward impeachment.

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"Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." -- First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

When James Madison agreed be the scrivener at the Constitutional Convention during the summer of 1787, he could not have known that just three years later he'd be the chair of the House of Representatives committee whose task it was to draft the Bill of Rights.

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"If the president does it, that means it is not illegal." -- Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994)

The revelation last weekend by Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash that he believes the Mueller Report accuses President Donald Trump of impeachable offenses has ignited firestorms in both major political parties on Capitol Hill. Amash's argument is simple and essentially unassailable, though his fellow congressional Republicans don't want to hear it and Democrats don't know what to do with it.

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William Barr, the attorney general of the United States, now faces a likely contempt citation for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena and for misleading Congress. This is about the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Isn't the investigation now complete? How did the attorney general's veracity become an issue and thereby extend the life of the investigation?

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When the Department of Justice designated Robert Mueller as special counsel to take over the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign in May 2017, Mueller's initial task was to determine if there had been a conspiracy -- an illegal agreement -- between the campaign and any Russians to receive anything of value.

When former FBI Director James Comey informed Mueller that he believed Trump fired him because he had declined Trump's order to shut down the investigation of Trump's campaign and of his former national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Mueller began to investigate whether the president had unlawfully attempted to obstruct those investigations.

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s2smodern
That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.
      --Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

When America was in its infancy and struggling to find a culture and frustrated at governance from Great Britain, the word most frequently uttered in pamphlets and editorials and sermons was not "safety" or "taxes" or "peace"; it was "freedom." And two intolerable acts of Parliament assaulting freedom broke the bonds with the mother country irreparably, precipitating the Revolution.

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When Attorney General William Barr released his four-page assessment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 400-page report, I was disappointed at many of my colleagues who immediately jumped on board the "no collusion" and "no obstruction" and "presidential exoneration" bandwagons.

As I write, Barr and his team are scrutinizing the Mueller report for legally required redactions. These include grand jury testimony about people not indicted -- referred to by lawyers as 6(e) materials -- as well as evidence that is classified, pertains to ongoing investigations or the revelation of which might harm national security.

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"If the provisions of the Constitution be not upheld when they pinch, as well as when they comfort, they may as well be abandoned." -- Justice George Sutherland (1862-1942)

Here we go again. The legal battle over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- will soon be back in court due to the largely unexpected consequences of a series of recent events.

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Last Sunday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a letter, which he said summarized the report he had received from special counsel Robert Mueller about alleged crimes committed by President Donald Trump. Barr wrote that the president's exoneration is complete with respect to any conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He also wrote that though Trump will not be prosecuted by the Department of Justice for obstruction of justice, the special counsel did not exonerate him.

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"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal." -- Richard M. Nixon (1913-94)

Legal scholars have been fascinated for two centuries about whether an American president can break the law and remain immune from prosecution. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln ordered troops to arrest, without warrant, and incarcerate, without due process, many peaceful, law-abiding journalists and newspaper editors -- and even a member of Congress -- in the Northern states. Wasn't that kidnapping?

During World War I, Woodrow Wilson ordered federal agents to arrest people who sang German beer hall songs or read aloud from the Declaration of Independence in public. Wasn't that infringing upon the freedom of speech?

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s2smodern

"Emergency does not create power. Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency." -- Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948)

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In an ideal world, the president of the United States would succeed in negotiating a nuclear arms treaty with a foreign government -- and do so with full congressional support; his lawyer would respect the attorney-client privilege and not reveal confidences publicly; Congress would abide the old adage that politics ends where the water's edge begins and lie low when the president is overseas on a delicate mission; the president would not engage in a grievous constitutional overreach that provokes a congressional negation; no one in his administration would have a top-secret security clearance who failed to be truthful to the law enforcement and intelligence folks investigating him; and the president would not fear RICO.

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 Earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a group of supporters and journalists that in her view, gun violence is the real emergency. Such a statement, in the context in which she made it, should send shivers down the spines of all who believe in personal liberty protected by the Constitution.

Notwithstanding the terrifying analogy she made about gun violence -- terrifying to those who believe in the individual right to keep and bear arms as articulated by the Second Amendment and interpreted and upheld by the Supreme Court -- Pelosi wasn't really speaking about guns. She was speaking about the presidency and the Constitution.

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Mike Scruggs