In the last few Reasonable Action newsletters, we discussed how our Constitutional rights are being systematically dismantled by our courts, especially the Supreme Court. In this article, we will illustrate one of the methods by which this is done. It is intended to show not only the progressive nature of this oppression, but also that the Justices are aware of what they are doing. To that purpose, a great deal of this article will be direct quotations from the opinions rendered in a case decided by the Supreme Court on May 24, 2004, Thornton v. United States (541 U.S. 615). This case is available on the internet1 for anyone who wants to read the decision in its entirety. To minimize confusion, direct quotations from the opinion will be shown indented and in italics, and internal citations are often omitted.
According to the background given of the case, a police officer (Nichols) in an unmarked car suspected Thornton of something (of what was never stated) because he believed Thornton was purposely trying not to pass him on the road. His suspicions aroused, Nichols pulled off so Thornton would have to drive by, and then ran a check on his license plate. He discovered the plates were not registered to the car Thornton was driving, and so decided to pull him over. Before he could do that, however, Thornton parked his car, got out, and began walking away. Nichols pulled in behind him, got out, and approached Thornton, who, according to the officer appeared nervous, was sweating, and began rambling and licking his lips.
In the February 2010 and March 2010 issues of Liberty Tree, the analyses of compelled testimony, the federal immunity statute (18 U.S.C. § 6002) and their relationship to the exercise of one’s Fifth Amendment right centered on the 1972 Supreme Court case Kastigar v. United States (406 U.S. 441). The question decided in that case was “whether the United States Government may compel testimony from an unwilling witness, who invokes the Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination, by conferring on the witness immunity from use of the compelled testimony in subsequent criminal proceedings as well as immunity from use of evidence derived from the testimony.”
The Constitution established a federal government of limited powers, limited not only by their explicit and full enumeration in Article 1, § 8, but also by the enumeration (but by no means an exhaustive one) in the Bill of Rights of certain important rights upon which the government must not trespass. Any power exercised by the government which does not fall within the list given in § 8 has been usurped, either from the people themselves or from the states, and being extra-Constitutional, is therefore illegitimate. Now the Bill of Rights is not so much a limit on the powers per se, but rather a limit on the means by which such powers may be exercised.
(or, Why don’t we just bring back the Inquisition?)
by Dick Greb
“No person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, …”
Article V, Bill of Rights, Constitution of the United States
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, …”
Article VI, Bill of Rights, Constitution of the United States
In a criminal case, there are two parties—the prosecutor, and the defendant. The two rights enumerated above frame two distinct classes of witnesses with respect to an accused defendant—those whom he has the right to obtain, by compulsory process, to testify for him, in his defense; and those whom the prosecution has the authority to obtain, by compulsory process, to testify against him. Or, more simply, witnesses for, and witnesses against, the defendant.
The idea that government officers and employees are our public servants is pretty much accepted by everyone. Everyone, it seems, except government officers and employees. Their typical overbearing manners and arrogant intrusion into our personal lives clearly show they believe that we are the servants. To be sure, that is the ultimate destination of the course we are traveling, and we are on that course because of our own failure to recognize and prevent the mutiny of our ship of state.
Part of the problem is due to a lack of understanding about the real nature of the public servant which is our government. Perhaps because the term servant is not the most accurate one for the relationship. It evokes ideas of servitude, such as with a maid, a butler, or a chauffeur—someone to do your bidding. This leads to the idea of superiority over your servants. But this is a two-edged sword. Once the idea of having superiority over your servants is entrenched, the servants set to work subverting the order of things, so that they might become master, with the superiority that comes with such status. It is only natural that a person whose interests are subverted by some advantage working against him, will (once he is aware of it) work to secure that advantage to himself. So we shouldn’t be surprised.
This article will explore the true relationship between the government and the people, and in turn, how that relationship is embodied in the Constitution. With that as a foundation, concepts of sovereign and delegated powers, sovereign immunity, and general welfare can be understood in their proper context. If more of the population really understood these things, the government’s claims of authority—to regulate firearm ownership or mandate toilet flow rates, for example—would be seen as the absurdities they are. And perhaps then, we can turn our ship of state around, and return to the kind of Constitutional government that free people can enjoy.