“The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!” ~ Frederic Bastiat, (1850)
I recall when I was taking writing courses, for my high school diploma and then later for college credits, that my instructors would tell me that all formal or official type writing begins with an opening statement. This opening statement is similar in nature to the opening arguments provided by both prosecution and defense attorneys in a criminal trial where the lawyers give an overview of what they hope to prove by the evidence they will provide for the jurors to consider. These opening statements declare the intent of the words that will follow them.
With that in mind, the Preamble to the Constitution is merely an opening statement; a declaration of the reasons why the Constitution itself was being written. It grants no powers in and of itself; a fact affirmed by Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story in his book, Commentaries on the Constitution, “The preamble never can be resorted to, to enlarge the powers confided to the general government, or any of its departments. It cannot confer any power per se; it can never amount, by implication, to an enlargement of any power expressly given. It can never be the legitimate source of any implied power, when otherwise withdrawn from the constitution. Its true office is to expound the nature, and extent, and application of the powers actually conferred by the constitution, and not substantively to create them.”
Time and time again I have repeated the fact that our government was established to represent two bodies; the great body of the people of this country and the States as sovereign entities. Our government was bestowed with certain specific powers and anything our government does beyond those powers is usurpation. These are incontrovertible facts and I don’t know why I have to keep repeating them over and over for people to grasp them as the truths they are.
Yet ignore these facts the people do…in droves. Then when someone such as myself comes along and tells them that the things our government is doing violate the law, and that we are not bound to obey these unconstitutional statutes, I am told that I have lost my mind, that government is omnipotent and it is our responsibility to obey whatever laws they pass.
If I am the one who has lost his mind, explain to me why Thomas Jefferson, author of our Declaration of Independence and the third person to become President of the United States would say things which support my views?
In response to the States so-called responsibility to blindly follow the laws passed by our government, Jefferson had this to say, “Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government . . . . and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.” (Source: Kentucky Resolutions)
In regards to the people, and their rights, Jefferson then said, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” (Source: Letter to Francis Gilmore, 1816)
Why is it that so many people willingly accept that their government can do the things it does when there is no justification for their acts in the very document which created our form of government? Why is it that so many people acquiesce to these laws which violate their most sacred rights without even a whimper of protest? To top it all off, these people then call people like me nutcases and radicals who are a danger to society.
The legal part of our government, the part that the Constitution authorizes, consists of only 546 people; that is if you include the Supreme Court Justices, as well as the President, Vice-President and Congress. Not a whole lot of people really. So if they were to pass a law that the people do not like, what’s to stop the people from simply telling the government to stick their law where the sun don’t shine?
A part of that answer is that they have at their disposal a great many men with guns. I find it ludicrous that the people of this country want to restrict and deprive the people of America of their constitutionally protected right to own guns, but they allow their government own whatever type of weaponry it wants. That right shows me that people DO NOT know why the 2nd Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights; for if they did they would not want their government to have bigger and better guns than the people did.
So we have armies of people with guns whose sole job is to enforce the laws our government passes. There is an army devoted to fighting the illegal drugs which find their way into America; the DEA. There is an army that fights the illegal transport and sale of liquor and guns; The BATF. There are the FBI and the US Marshalls. Then there is our actual military, who although the Posse Comitatus prohibits them from being used in a law enforcement capacity, wouldn’t stop our government from calling them out to engage the people to keep the peace. And let us not forget our local LEO’s, who are just ‘doing their job’. The problem is, their job is to protect us and our rights; not be enforcers for an out of control government.
Our government is not going to relinquish the power it has accumulated, nor will it restore the rights it has deprived us of. Working within the system, and by system I mean at the voting booths, is not going to fix this problem. There are but 3 ways that we can begin to fix this problem. There could be an outright revolution where are government is overthrown and replaced by one which adheres to the Constitution. This should be the last resort, when all else has failed. We are not there yet, but if we don’t change course in America we soon will be.
The second method by which we can begin to limit our government’s authority is by re-asserting the sovereignty of the individual States. This is the principle I mentioned moments ago with the quote from Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions. If the people would place more emphasis on electing men and women to their State governments who understood the relationship between the federal government and the States, and knew what powers were to be held by both, then maybe the States could simply tell the government to take a hike when it attempted to enforce and unjust or unconstitutional law within their borders.
Of course this is conditional on the fact that the States once again become self-sustaining entities and severe their dependence on federal funding. What good does it do for a State to say no to federal encroachment of their authority if all the federal government has to do is say, “Okay, if you don’t enforce this law we are going to cut off funding for roads and education?” If the States are slaves to their dependence on the flow of federal funds then the States are hardly in any position to stand up for their rights as sovereign entities. That leaves us with one final method of fighting tyranny; jury nullification.
What happens if someone resists the law; even when they feel the law violates their rights as human beings? Quick answer is that they are arrested; that is if they aren’t killed resisting arrest. Once a person is arrested they find themselves participants in our marvelous system of justice. I use the word marvelous as a truthful representation and as a sarcastic reference to the corrupt state our justice system is currently in.
One of the many reasons listed in our Declaration of Independence for the Colonists seeking freedom from their government was that their government had often deprived the people of a trial by jury. Why would trial by jury be so important to them? Well, in answer to that, let’s look to what Thomas Jefferson had to say years later, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.“
How could trial by jury keep our government from overstepping its authority? The answer is quite simple really. It takes 12 jurors to render a verdict of guilty to enforce the law, does it not? If just one of those people disagrees with the law itself, believing that the law violates an individual’s rights, they can, and should, find the defendant innocent. That, my friends is jury nullification; the ability of a jury to stop the enforcement of unjust laws upon the people; thereby limiting the authority of the government over the people. Imagine if jurors across the nation started doing that in droves. The beauty of jury nullification is that it takes but one person, a single individual who cares about the constitutional limitations upon government and the preservation of our liberty to halt tyranny; one person out of twelve.
How many people do you know, who when they get a jury duty notice bemoan the fact and try their best to get out of it? Me, I WANT to serve on a jury, and pray that if I do the trial is one in which an unjust law is the offense which the defendant is accused of violating. Watch how fast I hang that jury and allow that individual to walk free…WATCH ME!
But jury nullification takes two things to work. First, one has to have a thorough understanding of the original powers given our government and the nature of a person’s unalienable rights. Secondly it takes courage to stand before 11 of your peers and not back down when they are all aligned against you.
You see, when a person serves as a juror, and before they retire for debate over the case, the judge tells them what the law is and the conditions upon which they must deliberate. That is the perversion of our system; as judges do not want jurors capable of critical thinking who will question both the facts and the law a person is charged with violating. Judges are but mere puppets of the system itself; a system which seeks to keep us in line and under its thumb.
You want to get out of jury duty; show up when you get your notice wearing a T-shirt with two words on it; JURY NULLIFICATION. I guarantee that you WILL NOT be selected to serve on a jury.
Yet jury nullification is exactly what Jefferson hinted at in his abovementioned quote. American Jurisprudence is an encyclopedia of sorts of law and legal principles. As such it is not legally binding and cannot be used in a court as statutory evidence either for or against the prosecution or defense. Yet it gives us an idea of certain things that are known as legal maxims; truths that are unchanging over the course of time. In the 16th American Jurisprudence it states, “Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principles follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection and justifies no acts performed under it. No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.” (My emphasis)
Which now brings us to the quote by Bastiat which sits at the top of this commentary, “The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!“
If the law becomes perverted and the tool used to oppress the liberty of the people it was supposed to protect; and if the judges are part of that system of control who seek to ensure that the law, as written by government, is upheld in their courtrooms, then it is the DUTY of jurors to find those charged with violating unconstitutional laws innocent.
If we, or at least our forefathers, created government, and if they bestowed government with certain powers, what does it say about us that we submit to unconstitutional laws and infringements of our rights? What does it say about us that, as jurors we would send a person to prison whose sole crime was they violated a law which was instituted by criminals who had violated the Supreme Law of the Land by enacting that law?
In 1775 Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to William Small in which he posed the following question, “Can it be believed that a grateful people will suffer [individuals] to be consigned to execution, whose sole crime has been the developing and asserting their rights?” Were Jefferson to ask that question today, I fear the answer would be yes.
Yet Jefferson also believed in the motto that resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. It is our duty, our responsibility, to take every measure possible to restrict our government from encroaching upon unauthorized power, and to limit their ability to enforce unjust laws upon the people. This includes our civic duty to serve as jurors, and more importantly, to render innocent verdicts when one is accused of violating an unconstitutional law.
John Adams stated it thusly, “Therefore, the jury have the power of deciding an issue upon a general verdict. And, if they have, is it not an absurdity to suppose that the law would oblige them to find a verdict according to the direction of the court, against their own opinion, judgment, and conscience? … [I]s a juror to give his verdict generally, according to [the judge’s] direction, or even to find the fact specially, and submit the law to the court? Every man, of any feeling or conscience, will answer, no. It is not only his right, but his duty, in that case, to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”
Former Supreme Court Justice William C. Goodle once stated, “Jury Nullification encourages participation in the judicial process, which in turn furthers the legitimization of the legal system. Jury Nullification also serves to inject community values and standards into the administration of our laws. Ordinary citizens are given the chance to infuse community values into the judicial process in the interests of fairness and justice and at the same time provide a signal to lawmakers that they have drifted too far from the Democratic will… History is replete with examples that Jury Nullification serves as a corrective “veto” power of the people over both legislative and judicial rigidity and tyranny.”
Then there is this, from the case of United States v. Moylan, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, (1969), “If the jury feels the law is unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence.”
We have the power to resist unconstitutional laws, if only we would become educated as to the original intent of our Founders when they established our system of government. If we, as jurors, would render innocent verdicts against those charged with violating unconstitutional laws it would render our government powerless to enforce those laws upon us. THAT is the power of jury nullification. If they sought to deprive us of the right of trial by jury then they would show their true nature and maybe, just maybe people would realize that I’ve been telling the truth all these years; that their government does not care about them, or their liberty.
And now one final question. If our Constitution is indeed the Supreme Law of the Land, why have we not seen a single elected representative; be they a Congressman or President, brought up on charges of violating it? Why have not they been held accountable for the untold number of breeches of federal authority into areas it was never intended our federal government exercise any authority or jurisdiction?
After all, we are the true sovereigns of this country and our government is simply a group of employees who have been elected to perform certain specific functions. It is within our power to indict and prosecute them for their failure to uphold their oaths of office to support and defend the Constitution; that is if we should so choose to do so.
So, why haven’t we?
~ The Author ~
Neal Ross, Student of history, politics, patriot and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Send all comments to: email@example.com.
If you liked Neal’s latest column, maybe you’ll like his latest booklet: The Civil War: (The Truth You Have Not Been Told) AND don’t forget to pick up your copy of ROSS: Unmasked – An Angry American Speaks Out – and stay tuned – Neal has a new, greatly expanded book coming soon dealing with the harsh truths about the so-called American Civil War of 1861-1865. Life continues to expand for this prolific writer and guardian of TRUE American history.