OPINION

A MATTER OF LAW 

BY BILL BANTA

From its beginning, America has been a nation of laws by which we govern ourselves. Our laws also provide the means by which we settle differences and disputes. Importantly, to create, limit, and control the federal government and to serve as the supreme law of the land, Americans produced the United States Constitution. The Constitution, it is, that has the last word on the law. 

Indeed, this week brings the urgent appeal of a Colorado Supreme Court decision before the United States Supreme Court. The case is urgent because the Colorado Supreme Court might be the only court keeping Donald Trump’s name off of a presidential election ballot. The question for the U.S. Supreme Court to answer is whether Secretary of State Jena Griswold can constitutionally refuse to place Donald Trump on the Colorado ballot to run for President. A group of voters including Norma Anderson, Krista Kafer and four others sued the Secretary to prevent her from allowing Trump in the starting gate of the presidential primary. 

Anderson and the other voters claim that Trump is disqualified from being President by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment is one of the Civil War Amendments that ended slavery, that advanced personal rights, that disqualified former Confederates from holding office, and that prohibited voting discrimination. The Civil War is our primary experience with insurrection and rebellion against the Constitution. 

In any event, it appears that the Colorado case can be constitutionally resolved by answering one question about Section 3. The question is this: Without the approval of Congress by a two-thirds vote of each house, can a president who took an oath to support the Constitution but engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution (or gave aid or comfort to its enemies) be president again? 

If the answer is “No,” there is a Section 3 claim, arid Trump can be disqualified from being president again. However, if the answer is “Yes” because “President” is not among the Section 3 description of officers who may be disqualified, then Trump cannot be disqualified whether there was an insurrection or not or whether Trump engaged in it or not. 

To paraphrase Casey Stengel, don’t take my word for it, you could look it up! Read Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution for yourself to see whether “President” can be said to be one of the offices specifically described for disqualification. 

Incidentally, the reasoning behind why only certain government officers are marked for possible disqualification yet others are left unmentioned is not entirely clear. Still, it is interesting that while neither the President nor the Vice-President may be disqualified under Section 3, an “elector of President and Vice-President” can be. The fact that electors (of the “electoral college”) are the only people who actually cast votes for president and vice-president probably has something to do with that difference. 

Finally, one remarkable feature about the United States Constitution is the wording. As trial attorneys contesting in court a written contract are wont to say, “It speaks for itself.” In other words, the document does not need to be interpreted or translated so much as it requires careful and thoughtful reading and consideration. The meticulous crafting and drafting that went into the United States Constitution was such that the document can usually if not always be understood to mean what it says and to say what it means. 

The takeaway from this is that for the American republic to endure and for Americans to govern themselves so as to ensure their own liberties and freedom, it is all-important to read, understand, and apply the laws as they are written, especially the United States Constitution. So if the United States Supreme Court orders Trump’s name back on Colorado’s ballot based in the high court’s reading and understanding of what Section 3 actually says, then that is acceptable and just, regardless of our feelings about Trump. The main thing is that our experiment in democracy depends on each American’s respect for the law.

Bill Banta is an Arapahoe County resident with a law degree from Northwestern University with honors.  He is a Constitutional scholar and admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court in 2021. He has served as Chairman and Director of the Arapahoe County Bar Association.  


BANKNOTE – The source of economic misery

The Federal Reserve’s decision to increase rates rapidly is a decision to crush private enterprise, not improve the dollar.  High rates will bludgeon the private economy into recession, but will not improve the purchasing power of the dollar. 

As founder of a commercial bank,  and as one who appreciates the Austrian School of Economics, I must respectfully argue one point in current FedThink.  Dollar devaluation, and price inflation, won’t easily be tamed by high interest rates.  Not without tremendous economic pain.  There is a better way.

Inflation could more easily be reduced and the purchasing power of the dollar restored (these are identical), when two things happen simultaneously: The Federal Reserve engages in serious reduction in the supply of money, called QT (Quantitative Tightening) and thereby forces Congress to stop  spending, stop the debt spiral and most important, payoff debt.  

QT means  reducing the supply of money in our economy.  Excess money supply is the source of inflation, it devalues the buying power of every other dollar.  When we spend 50% more for the same tank of gas as we did three years ago, we call it inflation or devaluation in the dollar.  

In order to stop inflation, go to the source, which is excess money supply.  The excess was created so that Congress could spend it and thereby exert control over the citizen.  In what alternative universe can any thing indefinitely spend more than it takes in?  There is an endpoint.  Like the rest of us, our own government has got to stop putting our nation and every citizen into debt.  

Excessive government spending is a source of control because federal spending and its resultant debt, depletes private economic activity.  Federal spending creates citizens who are dependent on their government.  Spending transfers decisions out of the hands of citizens into the government.  Worse, it transfers capital out of the owners (our) hands into the government’s (citizens pay for this debt).  That was not the intent at our founding or as recorded in the founding documents.   The government was to act only to protect the inalienable rights of each citizen, not control them and certainly not spend them into serfdom. 

Consider, did we agree to be placed into $8 Trillion of debt?  Nope, but the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department made that decision for us when they printed $8 Trillion US Dollars (and bought Treasury Bonds) starting in 2008.  We and our progeny will pay back that debt for decades.  We must equate excess money supply with inflation, one leads to the other.  Consequently, equate excess money supply with debt whose source is federal spending.  Reduce one by reducing the other.

Bottom line, federal spending and debt are finite, they can’t go on forever.  There will be a reckoning.  We have the opportunity to avoid the catastrophic consequences of past federal action, if we act now to demand significant reductions in spending, debt and regulation.

Jay Davidson is founder and CEO of a commercial bank.  He is a student of the Austrian School of Economics and a dedicated capitalist.  He believes there is a direct connection between individual right and responsibility, our Constitution, capitalism, and the intent of our Creator.