Skip to comments.'IF IT'S THE LAW, IT'S THE LAW . . .YOU HAVE TO ABIDE BY THEM'
Posted on 10/27/2002 9:28:03 PM PST by missileboy
'IF IT'S THE LAW, IT'S THE LAW . . .YOU HAVE TO ABIDE
What is the final safeguard of Americans' rights and freedoms?
The Founders carefully divided our government into discrete levels and branches, counting on the natural jealousy of those entrusted with one set of powers to act as a check on the rest states using the 10th Amendment and their power to name senators to resist usurpations by Washington; Congress refusing to allocate funds for presidents overreaching their delegated powers, etc.
That has largely failed. Instead of jealously guarding their prerogatives, the states now run to Washington with their hands out for a share of the tax loot, while federal bureaucrats raid California marijuana plantations in blatant violation of the will of the voters, and of the ninth and tenth amendments.
Not to mention our once-proud U.S. Congress, deciding last week to forego the heavy lifting of actually debating and voting on a Declaration of War against Iraq, instead in effect telling President Bush "You figure it out; we're busy."
No, the "checks and balances" turn out to have been little more than a stopgap.
Instead, the final guarantor of our liberties is, in fact, a population taught from childhood that ours is a government of sharply limited powers limited to those specifically listed in writing established to protect the almost limitless rights and freedoms of the people.
In guarantee of which, each public officeholder is then required to swear a sacred oath to "protect and defend the Constitution." So how on earth could our liberties ever be endangered, so long as lawmakers understand they're bound by oath before God, by conscience and morality, not to enact or enforce any law not authorized by the Constitution, even if it's favored by the populace, 96-to-4?
How could any bad law ever be enforced if policeman, prosecutor, and judge each says in turn, "Wait a minute, I swore an oath not to enforce every law, but rather to protect and defend a Constitution which exists specifically to limit the types of laws that can be passed"?
But increasingly, we find ourselves surrounded by two generations of fellow Americans taught by their government schoolmarms that the government can do anything it wishes, so long as it's presented as being for "the general welfare."
This is absurd. If that were the case, the Constitution need contain only 25 words "The central government may do anything which the majority of both houses decide is in the interest of 'the general welfare'; have a nice day."
Instead, the document drones on for pages, stipulating that Congress has only those powers specifically delegated in Article I Section 8 to fund not just any roads, but solely "post roads"; to own, occupy and administer not 87 percent of the state of Nevada, but only those lands "purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings" while offering not a word of authorization for the federals to regulate or subsidize agriculture, drugs, education, energy, firearms (except to issue free automatic rifles to all us militiamen take a look, it's in there), fish, forests, labor relations, medical practice, small business, space stations ... let alone the invasion and subjugation of the state of Georgia.
Whereupon, beyond that, our state constitutions and now the 14th amendment place additional sharp limits on the areas where state government can meddle in our lives.
Yet as local office-seekers come trooping through our offices every two years, angling for endorsements, do any of them take their upcoming oaths of office seriously enough to vow they will enforce no unconstitutional enactment?
Just the opposite. Candidates for attorney general, district attorney, and sheriff are particularly assertive in insisting they will enforce every statute and ordinance enacted, blithely assuming "some higher court somewhere" will serve as their conscience, telling them later on if something they've been enforcing turns out to violate the clear language of the Constitution.
Asked why he would enforce a state law against anonymous political leafletting even though that law clearly violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech, for instance (heck, the "Federalist Papers" were originally published as anonymous leaflets), Republican attorney general candidate Brian Sandoval came into our offices at 930 a.m. Thursday, July 25 and explained he would enforce any enactment of the Legislature, no matter how obviously unconstitutional, since "I don't think the attorney general has discretion to not defend an unconstitutional law."
"Come on, " I demanded, "you're saying that if the Legislature passed a law requiring all Jews to wear yellow stars of David sewn on the outside of their clothing, you'd enforce it?"
"It's my job to enforce it," Mr. Sandoval replied.
(To be grammatical, I suppose he should have said, "It would be my job to enforce it." But I've written down precisely what he said.)
Some of the witnesses, including editor of the newspaper Thomas Mitchell and managing editor Charles Zobell, turned their heads and looked at each other, probably expecting an immediate retraction or "clarification" of what Mr. Sandoval had just said. (I wrote in my own notebook, directly under the words of his answer, "Well, that's clear.") But none was forthcoming.
And candidate Sandoval didn't say this in some off-hand barroom conversation after a few beers. Brian Sandoval said it while decked out in a suit and tie at 9:45 on a weekday morning in a formal endorsement interview in front of multiple witnesses, busily taking notes.
Two months later, as this biennial season of endorsement interviews was winding to a close, Kevin Child, a Bonanza High School graduate and real estate salesman running as a Republican for the 8th District Assembly seat, came into the newspaper's offices for a similar endorsement interview. Mr. Child said he's personally going to vote "Yes" on Question Two, to place a ban on gay marriage in the state Constitution, "because I'm a Christian ... even though I don't think it's something the government should be involved in."
This struck me and fellow interviewer Steve Sebelius as curious. If Mr. Child doesn't think the government should be involved in the matter, why would he vote to make permanent in the Constitution just such a government prohibition?
"Well, it's on the ballot, so it's our right to vote for it," Mr. Child explained, puzzling us still more. No matter by what mechanism it comes before them, once any measure comes up for a vote, the voters have a right to OK it, and the Legislature must then obey the will of the voters, even if individual legislators don't believe this is an area in which government should be meddling, Mr. Child explained again.
Again, I found myself driven to ask, "Come on. What if a majority of voters OK'd a law that required all Jews to wear yellow Stars of David sewn on the outside of their clothing? You're not saying the Legislature would obey the will of the majority in a case like that you'd approve such a statute, and then the people would have to obey it?"
"If it's the law it's the law," Mr. Child replied. "Whoever made these laws, if they're passed you have to abide by them."
Both these men said these things while sober and in the light of day, before witnesses who were taking notes, and to date have made no attempt to withdraw or amend them.
Are the gentlemen anti-Semites, who really want racial minorities to be "marked" for later round-up and removal, as practiced under Germany's Third Reich? I hope not. I hope they merely wanted to demonstrate consistency in defending an initial wrong premise that a nation once proud of our tradition of breaking bad laws by throwing the tea in Boston harbor, or acquitting John Peter Zenger of libel, or by defying the Fugitive Slave Act, is now a land of dutiful little drones, enforcing and obeying any edict of the central state, showing our photo IDs and submitting to humiliating airport strip searches without ever raising our heads from our yokes far enough to ask, "Did we grant them this power in our Constitution?"
It's also worth noting that, while their statements are markedly stupider, Messrs. Sandoval and Child are hardly alone in embracing the underlying premise; few of the candidates we interview any longer harbor a true understanding of a "government of limited powers."
Seek among them for anyone who will say, "I can't enforce the gun laws. I'll be swearing to protect the Constitution, which allows no 'infringement' of the right to bear arms, whatsoever," or "War on Drugs? I've searched in vain for any authorization to ban or regulate the trade in drugs in either the state or the federal constitution. They had to pass a constitutional amendment to ban alcohol back in 1919, but they've never passed one to authorize the War on Drugs. Nope; I'll be setting all those fellows free." You will find none.
In the end, what's most disturbing here is not the pair of individual answers, but the fact that these two dangerous dimwits are only the tip of an iceberg of ignorance ignorance of our own founding principles on which our ship of state is now bearing down at full speed.
Nowadays, I'm considered a "dangerous radical" because I insist I can't find in my copy of the 2nd or 14th amendments any language that says "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, except that any number of 'reasonable restrictions' can be enacted to make the soccer moms feel safe by preventing anyone from walking down the street with a bazooka."
Well, radical I am and mean to be since "radical," from the Latin stem for "root," merely means we get to the heart of the matter.
But who is the more dangerous radical those who would use their jealously protected arms to defend to the death the right of minorities to refuse to sew yellow Stars of David or pink triangles on their clothing?
Or does the real danger to our liberties come from folks like Brian Sandoval and Kevin Child, cheerfully "mainstream" dolts who assert they would happily enforce such laws, rounding up delinquent members of racial, religious, political, or lifestyle minorities in trucks and delivering them to the one-way box cars at the railroad yards if so ordered by someone "in authority," since "If it's the law it's the law. Whoever made these laws, if they're passed you have to abide by them"?
Every light in the house is on
The backyard's bright as the crack of dawn
1st of all libertarians would only claim that objective laws( ie laws establishing basic property rights, contract laws, laws against murder, theft etc) must be obeyed not the thousands of pages of illegitimate subjective laws our government issues every year( "If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law" - Winston Churchill). Secondly plenty of non libertarians claim the law is the law the law and must be obeyed. Libertarians would claim the law is just the will of the rulers and has no MORAL legitimacy in and of itself its moral legitimacy would all depend on what the law said.
What an insightful comment. I would have been even more impressed if it hadn't been buried in petty insults.
You seem too old to learn a new trick.
Fools who fail to learn only become old fools.
Youth is no barrier to wisdom; age in no guarante of sagacity.
Those who rely primarily on chronological seniority for credibility prove statement two.
Why do you have a problem insisting that the federal government stay within the bounds of it's authority while insisting that citzens obey all laws that make it into the books?
Deal with that.
Because he's conditioned to do whatever the Nanny state tells him to do...the idea of thinking for himself and living free under the framework of limited government is totally foreign to him. Dependence breeds ignorance.
As is the common reaction to threads that have anything to do with a Libertarian or libertarian issues. Its the same ole...same ole...equating all Libertarians with Harry Browne, one issue pot heads, anarchy, moral absentism and such. Thats OK...ignorance is bliss as they say. Stand your ground...be civil, stick to the real issues and the locker room retorts will become less frequent and less in volume.
Too bad that a few posters on this thread seem to be in their cups.=o)