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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Government, of the people

Of course some consideration was given to the questions of power and propriety before this matter was acted upon. The whole of the laws, which were required to be faithfully executed, were being resisted and failing of execution in nearly one-third of the States.  Must they be allowed to finally fail of execution, even had it been perfectly clear that by the use of the means necessary to their execution some single law, made in such extreme tenderness of the citizen’s liberty that practically it relieves more of the guilty than of the innocent, should to a very limited extent be violated?  To state the question more directly, are all the laws but one to go unexecuted and the Government itself go to pieces lest that one be violated? 
—Abraham Lincoln, 4 July 1861


This was the language used by the President to suspend Habeas Corpus during the civil war.  Habeas Corpus is Latin for “You have the body.”  It is a term that represents an important right granted to individuals in the United States; a mandate requiring that a prisoner be brought before the court to determine whether the government has the right to continue detaining them.  Constitutionally, the right of Habeas Corpus can be suspended when, “in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

The question is not so much whether Habeas Corpus may be suspended in the United States, but rather, who may suspend it.  In Lincoln’s time, he believed that he had the right to suspend this constitutional right, but in 1866 the Supreme Court ruled that only Congress might suspend it (See note 1).

Artist: Lucy Deane
As to the faithfulness of the law, are citizens obliged to obey an abusive law?  If we require citizens to obey the laws handed down by Congress or Executive fiat, does the government incur that same obligation with respect to the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights?  Andrew McCarthy recently opined that the legitimacy of law and our commitment to uphold the law must hinge on our sense of whether the law and its execution are just.  We may wish to protect an endangered species, but is doing so justified over our greater mandate to preserve our inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

If we examine the laws enforced by the Bureau of Land Management, particularly in the case of Cliven Bundy, where it appears that BLM’s concern for the desert tortoise is no more than pre-textual, we seem to have a confrontation between Washington ideologues and a disfavored class of citizen: Nevada ranchers.

Personally, I think Mr. Bundy has handled this problem poorly; he does not appear to be the sharpest tack in the drawer —but neither do I think the federal government has the right to abuse citizens with reams of laws and procedures.  Being at loggerheads with the federal government is nothing new in this country, but I believe we are reaching a dangerous point where, either we find a way to reduce these contentions, or we must face the real possibility of civil conflict, yet again. 

It would be helpful if we had, within the body of congress, good and faithful servants of the people who earnestly believe that he who governs least, governs best.  It would be a bonus to have sitting judges who understand the fragility of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and acted accordingly —pursuant to their oaths of office, to preserve and protect these founding documents.  And it would be fantastic if we have bureaucrats who were committed to balancing environmental issues with the right of the people to use our resources to earn a living. 

Personally, I don’t think we can achieve any of this until we first have a body of citizens who understand more than how to log on to social media.
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Notes:

1.  One problem with our system of supervisory courts —they always seem to rule AFTER the government has taken away that which cannot be restored.  Perhaps we should consider the case of Eugene Debs, who was selectively prosecuted and imprisoned with the full concurrence of the high court, for exercising his right to an opinion, and the audacity to express it.

24 comments:

  1. I've not supported Cliven Bundy the man. Rather, I think that what Cliven Bundy has done that matters is bring to the nation's attention the very real issue of land seizure on the part of the federal government.

    What is one to do when the executive branch and the judicial branch have conspired to seize land -- or to manage that land so as to run off residents who have long lived on adjacent land? I see no way for Bundy to have won in a court of law.

    Certainly, Congress should have acted to rein in the executive branch -- particularly federal agencies. But Congress is "too busy" to bother which such a matter because the properties of those serving in Congress are not being negatively affected.

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    1. Interesting, except the government wasn't seizing land, Bundy was grazing on federal land. He was warned multiple times to pay his fees and his neighbors all paid their fees.

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    2. And? This was all confiscated land? Ah....no.

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  2. Stupid things Conservatives do and sayMay 8, 2014 at 7:39:00 AM EDT

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. So much for the hope that the House would control this regime by the purse strings. Maybe if we gain control of the Senate we can defund some of the nonsense.

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  4. We can go back to the philosophy of John Locke, who so influence the founding fathers. Locke argues that property formerly own in common can become private if (1) it is unused (2) is put to a productive use by a settler (3) similar property remains for the use by others.

    I recently came across a good book on Locke and the founding: "Locke in America" by Jerome Huyler. He reviews Locke and shows how the founding was in accord with Locke's ideas.

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  5. "Personally, I don’t think we can achieve any of this until we first have a body of citizens who understand more than how to log on to social media."

    It's not going to happen, Sam, as long as the Progressive Group Thinkers continue to control our education system, the media, and our entertainment industry.

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  6. Your note at the end is very important, not sure what can be done.

    Debbie
    Right Truth
    http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

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  7. Amazing to read your last sentence...because I read the piece thinking about Lincoln's words and "until our young people understand that what Lincoln said MATTERED, none of this matters...'who's LINCOLN? who CARES?'" is what's really going on, isn't it. But they sure do know the name of one of the Kardashian's illegitimate children, huh?

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  8. More and more, I'm coming to the disturbing conclusion that the movie "Idiocracy" was more prophesy than comedy. your post illustrates why...

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    1. The government and politicians in 'Idiocracy,' with their alliances with big corporations, gullibility and fear mongering, were clearly right wing.

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  9. "...but I believe we are reaching a dangerous point where, either we find a way to reduce these contentions..."

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    How about this. Bundy pays his grazing fees.

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  10. There is more to this than merely paying the fees.

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    1. From the article: That being the case, why does Bundy deserve our sympathy? To begin with, his family has been ranching on the acres at issue since the late 19th century.
      -------
      No.
      The research was done and this lousy freeloading skip came into he land in the late 1940's.

      Even if it were the late 1880's, the land was ceded to the government by the Nevada state constitution in the 1850's.

      The claim that all the other ranchers were driven out of business is not supported by any example. The fact they don't graze on that land is not proof they are out of business.

      Bundy is nothing but a lousy freeloading skip.

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    2. Duck,
      this lousy freeloading skip

      That's an overstatement. Open range grazing is not freeloading.

      Or are you an expert on cattle ranching?

      I myself am not an expert, but one branch of Mr. AOW's family does have a cattle ranch here in the East. Some 900 acres of grazing required even for a small herd of beef cattle -- the specialty of the ranch along the lines of raising prize bulls as opposed to serving up beef in foam packages in the stores.

      Cattle ranching typically is a losing-bucks proposition, BTW.

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    3. ... and if his were an issue of the economics of cattle ranching rather than Bundy refusing to recognize the federal government I think Bundy would have mentioned that.

      When the feds executed the court order all we got was his libertarian silliness. The question of excessive fees was never raised.

      A large number of ranchers make out just fine grazing on federal land (at substantially lower cost than private land). It isn't an issue of excessive fees.
      Bundy is just a freeloading skip.

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    4. Actually, there is more to the history of ownership of the ranch -- that is, in-laws' property:

      Christena Jensen was born in Nevada in 1901 and that Bodel Jensen was born in Nevada in 1924. Christena Jensen’s parents originally were from Utah. This is the side of the family where Cliven Bundy claims long-standing livestock water rights.

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  11. ... and Ducky is a social media maven. Hard to imagine anyone that dumb.

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  12. Clearly, the people are the problem. If they don't accept government, government cannot exist in it's current state. If they don't accept the propaganda of the media, the media will not exist functioning as propagandists. Therefore we have the libtards to thank for all of this. They will get theirs someday, because, as they fail to realize, the government doesn't give a * about them.

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    1. Kid,
      I know that you'll love this. [sarcasm]

      From Obama: “Wrongheaded” Americans Must Trust Government More:

      President Obama today said Americans had developed the “wrongheaded” view that Washington won’t look out for them...

      Spoken at a California fundraiser as Obama tries to rally his base for the 2014 elections.

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    2. AOW. par for the course with der furher wannabe, but still HOLY.....

      Government by the people eh?

      Delete

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