Here comes the Judge: How we have gone full circle
It is Friday evening at the Save America Convention in Tampa, FL and the crowd of hundreds anxiously awaits the keynote speaker, FOX News Senior Judicial Analyst and bestselling author, Judge Andrew Napolitano. His appearance at the convention, not surprisingly offered a real treat to those of us who believe in individual liberties, freedom and a constitutionally limited federal government.
The Judge began by offering a little levity with a joke or two and the ever-amusing story of how he inadvertently influenced the 2000 presidential election because of how he answered a question as a legal expert on the news coverage of the debacle in Florida and how George Bush’s legal team reacted to said advice.
Napolitano covered numerous topics but this one I found particularly interesting concerning the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
How did the King of England, all away across the ocean, know if the colonists were paying the tax on printed materials that he imposed under the Stamp Act?
The British Parliament enacted, what the Judge describes as an ‘abomination’, the Writs of Assistance Act. This act authorized British soldiers to write their own search warrants! Sound familiar? Well it will.
Of course, the US Constitution contains the Bill of Rights, which is there to protect the rights of US citizens from acts like those afflicted upon them from the King.
Napolitano goes on to describe additional violations of the Constitution our own government did some just a few short years after the ratification of the Constitution.
John Adams was President and the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 (4 bills) was passed when the US was involved in an undeclared naval war with France and there was a fear we would be taken over by the French. This of course was the impetus to “Naturalization” part of the acts where if you were French, it would require a residence of 14 years to become a citizen.
The Sedition Act was designed to prevent seditious acts, in other words you couldn’t say or publish anything negative about the government. Clearly, this was in direct violation of the First Amendment. In fact, the Judge tells a story about one man that was jailed for making fun of Adam’s “rotundity”, in other words he was imprisoned for talking about Adam’s large waistline!
Napolitano then jumps to the Civil War, and comes right out saying “there is no president that caused more damage, killed more humans and violated the Constitution like Abraham Lincoln”. The Judge says that Lincolns waging war against the states as treason, which is also a violation of the Constitution. In addition, Lincoln arrested the whole legislature of the state of Maryland because he didn’t like a law they were to debate and consider. He arrested 3,000 journalists and newspaper publishers from the North because he did like their criticisms! Lincoln’s violations could go ad nauseum.
Then it was 1917 and our conflict was World War I. President Woodrow Wilson made it illegal to use language that might interfere with the war effort. Sound familiar? Remember the Alien and Sedition Acts? Wilson also had people arrested if they spoke German in public and rounded up thousands as “anarchists”.
Then there was FDR who during World War II arrested people based on their nationality. Here Roosevelt arrested Japanese-Americans and the Supreme Court unfortunately allowed this atrocity.
At this point Napolitano asks the question, what is happening in each of these periods when these violations of the Constitution occurred? The answer of course is war.
That leads up to our present “war”, the Bush Administration, and the Patriot Act. The Judge calls the Patriot Act the single most hateful and unconstitutional act since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.
Because the Patriot Act allows federal agents write their own search warrants!
We came 360 degrees in 200 years from fighting a war against a king and a parliament in large measure because he unleashed soldiers on us who could knock on the door and authorize themselves to enter, to electing representative and Senators to Congress who would write a piece of legislation that would authorize federal agents, our employees, to knock on the door and enter.
The Constitution is the same during wartime as it is in peace, despite what George Bush, FDR, Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln or John Adams say.
Of course, I could never do justice to the details and description Judge Napolitano gives during his keynote address, but you get the point.
War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistable forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense…the nation in war-time attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war…The State is intimately connected with war, for it is the organization of the collective community when it acts in a political manner, and to act in a political manner towards a rival group has meant, throughout all history – war… -Randolph Bourne
It was a fantastic night and a critical educational experience for all. I look forward to the rest of the weekend and the plethora of expert speakers. Also, my hats off to John Chambers and all the people that put a lot of hard work into this excellent convention.