Supreme Court at the Crossroads
The nine justices of the Supreme Court and the institution itself have been both revered and reviled by American citizens throughout its history. Whether you love or hate the institution, one thing is abundantly clear- the power of the court has expanded far beyond its constitutional mandate and it stands at a crossroads where it can either live up to the visions of the Founding Fathers and be a guardian of our Constitutional rights or it can continue its descent and be an enabler of unconstitutional state power. Some level of confidence in the court was renewed when President Trump put three new justices on the bench but that confidence waivered when the court refused to take up the matter of election fraud in the 2020 elections. Fraud and evidence thereof was rampant and there was no question that the court could have intervened but it did not. This left conservatives reeling and wondering if the three new justices – and Chief Justice Roberts – were just a part of the corrupt cabal that has infested all branches of the U.S. government.
There have been several Supreme Court rulings that the different ends of the political spectrum can claim as victories for their political ideology and conservatives won such a victory on May 17, 2021 in the matter of Caniglia v. Strom when the court ruled that law enforcement cannot legally enter a home and seize a weapon without a warrant – a blow to the tyrannical aspirations of the Biden administration and anti-gun liberals across the country who despise the right of the citizens to bear arms. Still, this is a ruling that should be of no surprise to anyone. It’s an open and shut case that required a ruling in favor of the Fourth Amendment rights of the gun owner. Yet the court’s defense of individual liberties has substantially eroded over the course of time. To explore the court’s take on liberty we need to understand what he Supreme Court is and what its role is as a separate but equal branch of the U.S. government.
The Supreme Court is the only court created by the United States Constitution and its power is outlined in Article III of the Constitution. While it is the only court created by the Constitution we must note that the Constitution does give Congress the right to create lower level federal courts and it has in fact done so. Under the current court regime, America has three levels of courts. Federal District Courts, Appellate (Circuit) Courts, and the Supreme Court.
Federal District Courts are the lowest level court and they are the federal courts where initial hearings and trials are conducted on matters that fall under federal court jurisdiction rather than state court jurisdiction. The Constitution tells us what types of cases are to be heard by the federal courts. They are:
the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States,—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In essence, federal court jurisdiction falls under two broad categories – (1) a federal question where the issue is based on the Constitution or role of the federal government, and (2) diversity jurisdiction where the parties are members of two or more different states or are themselves in fact the governments or agencies of two or more different states.
There are 94 federal district courts which include at least one district court in each state, plus in Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, as well as one for the U.S. territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Cases can be appealed from the federal district courts to the next level up – the U.S. Courts of Appeal, otherwise known as the Circuit Courts. Circuit Courts group geographically co-located states together and their rulings are settlements of law for the groups of states in each circuit. There are 13 Circuit Courts across the country – 11 are comprised of groups of states and the remaining two are the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (which settles federal law over the federal territory of the District of Columbia) and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (which hears appeals from specialized trial courts like the United States Court of International Trade. the United States Court of Federal Claims, as well as appeals from the district courts in patent cases and certain other specialized matters.
Finally, the United States Supreme Court – the only court created by the Constitution, resolves all matters of federal law or diversity jurisdiction for the entire country. It is often the case that two different circuit courts have ruled differently on similar matters for the states under their jurisdiction with the law, therefore, being applied differently depending on the states where each ruling has been issued. The Supreme Court’s ruling, therefore, is the ultimate ruling and will settle these issues as a final matter for everyone and everywhere.
This judicial system has served America quite well over time but, as with all institutions, it has become increasingly corrupt, politicized and enabling of governmental power over the individual – leading to a decreasing amount of public trust in the judicial system. The court has never been perfect but the danger now is that the court often errs on the side of increasing government power and sanctioning abuses of power in a manner that the Bill of Rights was designed to prevent. The Supreme Court is supposed to respect to the rights of the citizen but often the Bill of Rights is ignored or watered down, leading to the abusive and arbitrary government power that the Founding Fathers were intent on eliminating from the institution of government.
With one cursory review of the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments to the Constitution – it can easily be discerned that the justices of the Supreme Court have not honored their oaths of office.
Over the past several years, and over the last year in particular, we’ve seen the courts, including the Supreme Court, ignore the destruction of the First Amendment rights to free speech, assembly and the free exercise of religion as government agencies at the federal, state and local level have banned people from gathering together and attending church in the name of stopping a pandemic while large groups of rioters were encouraged to take to the streets to burn, loot and murder. The Second Amendment, drafted to give the people a means to resist a tyrannical government take-over of America as well as self-defense from criminals, continues to be under attack as Democrats in particular seek to ban certain types of guns and gun accessories that would be the best tools for resistance to tyranny and self-defense. The Supreme Court has too frequently failed to stand for the Second Amendment which specifically states that the “right to bear arms shall not be infringed.” Language can’t be more clear than this.
The Fourth Amendment which among other things protects against unreasonable search and seizure has been almost completely negated as courts have signed onto warrantless wiretapping, surveillance and spying on citizens in a manner that would make the Stazi of former communist East Germany jealous. All data on all people is being collected all of the time and the government frequently uses the ever present and disingenuous excuses of “terrorism,” “extremism,” and “national security” as justification to collect information on innocent people who have committed no crime and can’t be reasonably suspected of having committed one.
The Fifth Amendment rights to due process and protections against unlawful takings have similarly been largely nullified as American citizens are locked up on trumped of charges of “insurrection” and other crimes and held without trial for indefinite time periods. We’ve also seen police confiscate property pursuant to an arrest under the doctrine of “civil asset forfeiture,” and we’ve watched as businesses were forced to close on the order of petty tyrants acting under Covid-19 National Emergency orders. While some people have been successful challenging these edicts the courts have often endorsed them under a laughable and fraudulent “state of emergency”.
The Sixth Amendment right to speedy trial has been ignored and violations of its protections have been rubber stamped by the courts as people have languished in jail for months on end because they have been accused of terrorism or been qualified as risks to national security. Similarly, the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment has been voided by a Supreme Court that has found it acceptable for such things as a prisoner’s jaw being broken by a prison guard and the use of torture against American citizens in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The extensive use of solitary confinement is also frequently used to mentally break prisoners with whom the U.S. government has a special beef – even if they are nonviolent.
The Ninth Amendment makes it clear that the enumeration of rights in the Constitution is not the limit of the rights of the people and this is because the Founding Fathers believed in natural rights from which the Constitution was derived. Natural rights cannot be taken away by governments and all humans are entitled to them. The Ninth Amendment acknowledges that there may be rights that are not codified in the Constitution but their absence in the Constitution does not mean they do not exist.
Finally, the Tenth Amendment protects states’ rights and is in the most simple and plain language: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people. It doesn’t get any clearer than this yet year after year the federal government takes more rights unto itself whether by Executive Orders (which are supposed to apply to government agencies, not the American citizen) or by law as exhibited by the unbelievably tyrannical and Constitution nullifying provisions of Title 50 of the United States Code. This part of the federal legal code gives government enormous power to take away rights, property and business interests and to create ad hoc bodies of technocrats that are given the power to rule over the people and the states in times of national emergency. As we now know, a national emergency can be declared for any purpose and for any length of time without any oversight by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has not fulfilled its obligation to protect the right of the people or the states nor to objectively apply the Constitution to disputes under its jurisdiction. Do you trust the court to be the defender of your rights?