Jefferson warned, we will listen?

July 1, 2018
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Two hundred and forty two years ago today delegates to the Second Continental Congress met in what was then known as the Pennsylvania State House to take up a resolution introduced by Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee and seconded by Massachusetts delegate John Adams three weeks earlier on June 7, 1776.

Said resolution stating:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

Dissension among the South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Delaware delegations resulted in a one day delay but the vote was taken, the resolution passed and John Adams wrote to his beloved wife Abigail a day later:

The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

Before Adam’s letter could get to the Pennsylvania border let alone make Boston, July 4th arrived and with it, Thomas Jefferson’s “When in the course of human events….” and “We hold these truths to be self-evident……..” was officially adopted and America’s Declaration of Independence was forever enshrined in the annals of history.

A fierce defender of individual liberty and one of decentralized power’s most avid advocates, Jefferson was adamant in his warnings to the future on the danger of an unaccountable judiciary.

From the Constitution being “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please”, to the concept of judicial supremacy being “a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.” to the danger of “The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working underground to undermine our Constitution.”, Jefferson made clear his disdain for a few black robes handing down edicts from on high.

Two Supreme Court decisions this past week show just how close we truly are to living under Jefferson’s “judicial tyranny”.

In her dissent from the majority decision upholding the Trump travel ban (Trump v. Hawaii) Justice Sonya Sotomayor put Jefferson’s “wax” warning on full display. Even though the ban covers only 8 percent of the world’s Muslims and targets only countries with questionable vetting, Sotomayor compared upholding the ban to the 1944 Korematsu decision which upheld the forcible relocation of Japanese-American citizens into internment camps during WWII and would have ruled based upon then candidate’s Trumps words rather than the actual text and scope of the executive order.

In Janus v. AFSCME, Justice Elena Kagan went on a tirade against the majority for daring to rule that public employees have a choice on whether to pay into a union. That so called “fair share” payments cannot just automatically be deducted involuntarily from a person’s paycheck.

She didn’t just dissent; she claimed that they (majority) had turned “the First Amendment into a sword and using it against workaday economic and regulatory policy”.

But buried in Kagan’s rant was the real money quote: “Public employee unions will lose a secure source of financial support……” BINGO. For all her First Amendment hyperbole, in the end it was nothing more than trying to protect union funding over individual choice.

A question that I suggest to Justice Kagan has a very simple answer: The unions can earn their money by showing value to members rather than showering Democrat politicians with contributions.

In my “One Flag, Two Nations” column last October I wrote of our current political divide

On one side, the Founding Fathers, limited government and maximum liberty; on the other a “living” Constitution, a “caring” government, and rights allotted on an “as needed” basis by that same government.

The next generation of Americans will either be governed by facts and the rule of law, or feelings and the emotion of the day…….

Thursday’s retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy once again brings the Facts v Feelings case front and center.

Is America better served by a Kagan/Sotomayor judiciary basing decisions upon what they want the country to be or a Jeffersonian judiciary ruling on what the Constitution actually says it is?

No surprise, this columnist stands firmly with Jefferson.

Publisher Note:  A version of this column first appeared in the July 1, 2018 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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