Constitutional Rights

Government can be freedom’s best friend when it protects citizens’ constitutional rights. Here’s how the Goldwater Institute is ensuring your rights are protected.

<p>Government can be freedom’s best friend when it protects citizens’ constitutional rights. Here’s how the Goldwater Institute is ensuring your rights are protected. </p>

Ward Connerly, founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI), has been riding the wave of his successful 2006 Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which banned racial preferences in public universities and government hiring and contracting in that state. He will be looking to give voters in five more states the opportunity on Election Day 2008 to ban racial preferences. After the decisive 58-42% win in Michigan, Connerly and his supporters have every reason to believe that public opinion is strongly on their side.

Step aside partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Make way for soy.

On the heels of New York City's ban to free its restaurants of trans fatty acids, Marriott International hotels just announced it is dumping the harder-to-pronounce cooking oil in favor of deep fryers filled with a healthier alternative soybean oil. Beginning this month, Marriott becomes yet another company getting in line to please the publics taste for something less fat, and maybe save a few lives in the process.

Consumer-driven bans

Forty years ago, on the eve of a presidential election, millions of Americans gathered in front of their television sets to watch a fading Hollywood star deliver a speech on behalf of the Republican candidate, Sen. Barry Goldwater.

'Goldwater' label moves from right as GOP changes

In 1964, Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater delivered the words that simultaneously defined a conservative political force and doomed his presidential campaign:

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

The statement caused some fellow Republicans to label Goldwater a conservative radical on the outer fringes of the party of Lincoln.

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." The image of our government careening through our rights like a drunken teenager is funny, but too true. We owe this colorful image to P.J. O'Rourke.

Engaged citizens make for good governments. That’s the central idea behind the ninth annual Goldwater Institute Legislative Report Card, which takes into account 375 votes during the first session of Arizona’s fiftieth legislature. The result is a citizen-friendly tool for evaluating legislators’ votes against a simple, important standard: their impact on liberty.

The Goldwater Institute is charging that legislation approved last year allowing school districts to spend unused bond money is unconstitutional because it benefits so few districts.

Under the law, districts that have unused capital-bond proceeds from elections more than nine years earlier can use that money on any capital improvements, such as renovating a school, and not just the originally intended project.

Judicial activism has become a universal pejorative, a rare point of agreement between red and blue America. Conservatives and liberals alike condemn courts for overturning policy decisions they support. Both sides would reduce the judiciary's constitutional scrutiny of the actions of other branches of government -- a role it exercises not too much, but far too little.

Prince Charles is publicly advocating a ban on Big Macs. While touring a diabetes center, he asked a local official, Have you got anywhere with McDonalds, have you tried getting it banned? That's the key.

Its no secret that Big Macs and fries aren't good for you (incidentally, neither are fish n chips, chap).

Arizonans decided 19 ballot propositions this election, the most of any state. That's a lot of direct democracy. Maybe its time to ask how well its working.

Our states founders wanted the people to have direct access to the ballot. They saw it as a fundamental protection against unresponsive government. But if this process provides an occasionally needed corrective, its not the best way to make law.