Darrell discusses Justice Ginsburg’s recent interview on Egyptian television.
Sometimes we take what has come to be thought of as the ideals of America for granted, and we assume that most people, and certainly our leaders, hold these ideals as sacrosanct.
Many of the ideals of America can be found in the Declaration of Independence. A partial list of those ideals would include: That all men are created equal; That we have certain rights that come from the Creator such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and those rights are unalienable, which means they cannot be taken by government.
We also learn from the Declaration that government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. In other words, we are a self-governing people and our government representatives must represent our views and cannot legally assume power that we do not give them.
There are many other ideals that most people assume to be widely held by Americans – concepts such as freedom and liberty. We Americans believe that we are freer than any other people. Justice is another ideal widely believed to be dear to Americans. By justice, I mean equal justice before the law – i.e. the president is subject to the same law to which the rest of us are subject.
The basic rights set out in the Bill of Rights are also ideals assumed to be widely held. There are many others, but the point is that these ideals are closely associated with America and are believed to be almost universally held and cherished.
It is shocking then, to learn that our leaders, who are charged with upholding the ideals of America, instead hold those ideals in contempt. I’m not only talking about the current administration and Congress, although our current leaders are the most obvious. I’m talking about something that has been ongoing for decades at least.
How does the ideal of equal justice before the law hold up against a president who asserts that he is above the law and it does not apply to him? Equal justice is especially difficult if Congress meekly accepts the president’s assertion.
How does “government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed” hold up when Congress routinely robs the states and the people of legitimately held 9th and 10th Amendment power? How can we continue to call ourselves self-governing people when Congress continually enacts legislation overwhelming opposed by the American people?
How is justice upheld when Congress and the president rob us of rights protected by the Bill of Rights? The right to a fair trial, right to counsel, right to have charges presented to a grand jury, right to a speedy trial, right to be free from warrantless searches, right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, all are violated with regularity, with impunity, and without consequences for the violator.
Perhaps the most obvious and most damaging example of the contempt in which our leaders hold our cherished ideals is the government’s wars of naked aggression and constant violations of the sovereignty of other nations. The pointless slaughters conducted in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are but the most obvious examples. Our leaders have been militarily intervening in the affairs of other nations for about 100 years now. Just about every nation in Central and South America has been invaded at one time or another.
In addition to the disregard for human life and human suffering which has been inflicted on a mass scale, our leaders have admitted to war crimes and crimes against humanity – as defined by the Nuremberg standard, which was created by the United States post-WWII.
The former President George W. Bush admitted to torture and said he was proud of it and that he would “do it again.” Torture, and specifically waterboarding allied prisoners, was one of the war crimes for which Hideki Tojo, premier of Japan, was hanged as a war criminal on December 23, 1948. His other listed crimes had to do with waging aggressive war against the various allied powers. Mr. Tojo probably was a war criminal, but it’s a bit hypocritical to exempt our own leaders from his crimes, don’t you think?
Ideals like justice, equal rights under the law, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and even simple concepts such as “mind your own business” may be widely held by the American people, but they are held in contempt by America’s leaders.
- Darrell Castle
The Constitution Party of Tennessee filed a lawsuit in 2008 alleging that Tennessee’s ballot access law is unconstitutional, and on September 20 of 2010, Judge William J. Haynes agreed with us.
Jim Linger from Oklahoma was the lead counsel, and Constitution Party National Vice-Chairman Darrell Castle of Tennessee was co-counsel.
A special thanks to Richard Winger for all of his help in serving as an expert witness.
Here is a PDF link to the original article:
Throughout the history of mankind, we have relied on two basic legal systems to keep order, prevent chaos, and resolve disputes. The two systems are those based on common law and those based on political law.
Common law is a system of discovering and applying the natural laws that govern human behavior and then applying the precedents based on those discoveries.
Essentially, common law is religion-based, as Thomas Jefferson so clearly understood. Here’s an excerpt from Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence:
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Common law is based on two principles common to all religions: Do all that you have promised to do, and do not encroach on other people or their property. These principles are set out and examined quite well in Richard Maybury’s great little book Whatever Happened to Justice?.
Common law through these two principles was the source of our laws against theft, fraud, murder and other criminal violations. Judges were ruling these actions to be illegal based on religious principles long before Europeans settled in America.
Using religious principles to decide disputes is prohibited today. Even a mention of religion in our public schools is prohibited and as a result very few people have heard of the common law. The thought of common law principles being taught in law school today would undoubtedly be met with laughter.
Common law evolved over time as people gathered together after the collapse of Rome for common safety and order. They would choose a wise man who was usually a clergyman to listen to disputes and make decisions. These clergymen developed great skill and were respected as judges. They based their decisions on religious and philosophical principles of right and wrong.
These principles were written down and preserved as precedents, and became the basis for an evolving common law. Eventually these principles became the foundation of all law.
Religion was the foundation and the source behind the “natural law” that Jefferson mentioned in his Declaration. When we reject religion, as we have done today, then we reject natural law and there is only one conclusion left to us. Right and wrong become simply value judgments and opinions, and since there remains no higher law than man’s political law, everything becomes just subjective opinion. The result of this reasoning and teaching has been a valueless, morally bankrupt society, and generations of amoral children.
Common law also differs from political law in that it had to be logical and make sense. It was Mark Twain who said “no wonder truth is stranger than fiction, fiction has to make sense.”
Under common law, judges and lawyers were highly respected because they were like philosophers and scientists trying to discover the laws of morality that make civilization possible. They labored to understand how the universe worked and then how to apply those principles in the resolution of disputes. The study of logic was necessary for a lawyer to properly apply his craft. Today it’s very common indeed for the law not to make sense; in fact, it’s not a stretch to say that the law rarely makes sense today.
Photo credit: Jonathunder
Richard Maybury, in the book I mentioned above, argues that when we study the common law, we experience something of wondrous beauty, much as a doctor does when he studies the human body or a scientist does when he studies the heavens.
Common law made possible the most prosperous and free civilization ever seen on earth. The founders based the American republic on common law principles. Too bad it’s gone.
Today, all our law is political law, which means it is created by politicians out of nothing. It is the opposite of common law in that it is based not on logic but rather on raw power and brute force. We must do what those in power tell us to do, even if it is morally wrong, because morality is not a political law concept.
Do the regulations permit it or do they not? All we have left now is the right to do whatever those whose primary focus is to ensconce themselves in power say for us to do. Too bad; Common law, rest in peace.
Tennessee currently has 14 prisons of which 3 are privately operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
CCA is the largest private prison operator in the United States, with an inmate population larger than all but the federal government’s and 4 states. CCA manages 60 facilities, of which 44 are company owned.
Private prison management is different from private prison ownership. In private prison management, the state government contracts with a corporation to run certain prisons, usually because the state believes that the corporation can run it cheaper. Private ownership is when the corporation actually builds and owns the facility.
There are several reasons why a state would contract with CCA to run its prisons, but the reasons usually revolve around money. There is certainly nothing wrong with a state trying to save money, especially when its prison population is at or over capacity, like Tennessee’s, and more inmates are coming into the system daily. Every one of Tennessee’s 3 privately managed prisons – Hardeman County Correctional Facility, South Central Correctional Facility, and Whiteville Correctional Facility – are currently over capacity.
Sometimes the efforts to save money by privatizing prisons proves to be counterproductive: the best interests of the corporation are served when the prison is full, causing demand for more buildings and more beds because there are more criminals than the overburdened state can warehouse.
In some states privatizing is, in part, an effort to avoid lobbying by prison officer unions whose ranks are better served by full capacity prisons. More criminals mean more prisons and more guards.
Privatizing for that reason is usually counterproductive, because corporate lobbying is much stronger than the guards’ unions. The corporation can afford lobbyists both in Washington, D.C., and the state capitol to lobby for tougher laws to catch more people in the nets. More crimes mean more criminals and that means more prisons and more money.
Such laws are very beneficial for prisons, like 3 strikes laws, which can mean a life sentence on the 3rd felony conviction. Intense enforcement of laws against illegal drugs, including laws against possession, are usually favorites of private operators, while many law enforcement agencies favor de-criminalization of drug possession.
The U.S. imprisons a larger proportion of its population than any other country in the world, except perhaps North Korea. It costs a tremendous amount of money to lock everyone up and throw away the key, especially for acts that harm no one but the actor himself.
Prison operation should be the responsibility of the people through their state governments. Farming out corrections to private companies is a very bad idea.
If states want to save money, they could de-criminalize drug possession, immediately release all inmates serving time for possession, carefully review 3 strikes laws, and review 3 strikes convictions even more carefully.
That’s enough bad news for now. Perhaps we can look at Tennessee’s prison system more in-depth in the future. Until then, thanks for reading this blog and for coming to this web site.
- Darrell Castle