by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
Reports about the Bundy ranch in Nevada brought forth much commentary in the news media. Criticism of Bundy came from both sides of the political spectrum. The chief criticism is that Bundy should obey the law, and the law should be enforced. We are, after all, a nation of laws.
Can we really be a nation of laws when:
1) nobody adequately understands what the law is.
2) laws are passed that no one who voted for them has ever even read, much less understood.
3) the government itself violates its own laws with impunity.
4) the president continually and unilaterally changes the law for personal political cover.
1. Nobody knows what the law actually is. Judges all the way from the bottom to the top disagree with each other. Supreme Court decisions are many times split five to four on important cases. This violates the most fundamental principle of good governance, which is that laws should be understood by the ordinary citizen. Court decisions should not be lotteries. They should be predictable, merely the fine tuning of details, not massive overhauls. Courts should apply the law to specific cases, not make laws, nor interpret them in ways that were clearly never intended by the legislature. Laws passed by popular referendum should be respected by the courts, and never overturned unless there is some extraordinary necessity for doing so. Judges should base their decisions on what the actual law is, not on their personal opinions of what the law should be.
2. Legislators vote on laws without ever having read what they are voting on. The most egregious recent example of this is the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama-care. Not one—repeat, not even one—of the legislators who voted for this law ever even read it. Not one. Congressmen John Conyers publicly ridiculed those who demanded that Congress should actually know what it is doing, by saying, quote:
I love these members that get up and say, Read the bill! Well, what good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you’ve read the bill?
Such outrages by the legislature are a slap in the face to the American people, and a blatant disregard of what representative government means. This dereliction of even the most basic duty of the legislature is so extreme as to defy description. It gets worse. Many members of Congress cannot answer simple, direct questions about what the Constitution says. Congressman John Conyers told a reporter that the “good and welfare clause” gives Congress the authority to force individuals to buy health insurance. There is no such clause. There is a general welfare clause, but it does not erase the rest of the Constitution. Other congressmen are quoted as saying such things as, most of what we do around here is unconstitutional, and, if I voted only for laws that are permitted by the Constitution, I would not get reelected.
In other words, we are no longer a republic.
3. The government itself violates its own laws with impunity. One of the most obvious violations of constitutional representation is the fact that laws passed by the Congress routinely exempt the members of Congress from the burdens imposed by the laws they inflict upon us. It is inconceivable that the American people tolerate this, but too many of us do. Many more examples exist. The Tenth Amendment is perhaps the one part of the Constitution that is so frequently violated that in effect it has died of neglect.
Operation Fast and Furious is another example. The Department of Justice had been proclaiming that much of the gun violence in Mexico was due to weapons smuggled from the US. When this proved not to be the case, the DOJ itself began smuggling weapons into Mexico, so that they could point to them as demonstrating the need for violating the Second Amendment guarantee that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Hundreds of Mexicans died as a result, along with at least one American Border Patrol agent. The DOJ has defied all subpoenas to release its documentation of this illegal operation.
4. The president continually and unilaterally changes the law for personal political cover. Again, the Affordable Care Act provides the most glaring examples. This law was so poorly-crafted that it is unworkable. The constitutional remedy for this is clear. Congress must change the law. Instead, Barack Obama repeatedly ignored or overrode vital components of the law to avoid the inevitable embarrassment of its failure. Barack Obama is not the legislature. He has no legal basis for violating the separation of powers, despite his flimsy excuses for doing so.
Cliven Bundy may or may not be in violation of one or more of the encyclopedic laws and regulations that were passed with no one ever having read or understood them. The laws which he is accused of violating may or may not be just and fair. It is clear, however, that the use of armed force, with the open threat of lethal violence, to seize his property, is the inevitable consequence of a government that increasingly seems to recognize no limits on its own authority. It was done on a pretext, probably involving official corruption by Nevada senator Harry Reid. We may never know the full story, because it seems that so much of what government does is illegally concealed from the public.
We are no longer a nation of laws. We are not supposed to be ruled by overlords, but rather, we are supposed to govern ourselves. That principle has been completely forgotten by those who are now in power. We are no longer ruled by law, but instead by an elite class of oligarchs. Not until we the people take back the power and authority that under the Constitution are rightfully ours will the law once again be respected.