Have you noticed how significant the courts have been to politics recently? It seems like every major political issue hinges on either the Court or courts. (By Court, I mean the Supreme Court, courts means all other federal or state courts along with the Supreme Court.)
The Constitutionality of coronavirus lockdowns?
The legitimacy of the election?
The punishment for law enforcement accused of racially motivating killing?
Recently, society increasingly seems to perceive the courts as the final “court” of review (pun intended). The courts are the final stop, the last hope. Once the courts deem something unconstitutional, constitutional, not worth ruling on, guilty or innocent, it’s as if there is no recourse, no push back… their words are final.
My friends, I’m here to tell you.
They are NOT.
We’ve been lulled into believing that the buck stops at the courts. If the courts, specifically THE Court, rules a certain way, then we’re all just stuck with whatever ruling they give.
Friends, if the legislative or the executive branches can act unconstitutionally, so can the courts. We’ve been fooled into believing that the courts are beyond reproach. Their rulings cannot be unconstitutional. We’ve been led to believe their rulings are the Constitution. Their power cannot be unconstitutional because we believe they write and rewrite the Constitution with every ruling.
In case you forgot, the founders created a system of checks and balances, where every branch of government checked and balanced out the other branches because every single branch was destined to violate the Constitution. The founders didn’t believe only two branches would violate the Constitution. No, they knew that power corrupted at every single level of government, no matter what level or what branch.
So, why have we bought into the lie that the courts are beyond reproach? That their power is legitimate and that their rulings are legitimate law?
STATE GOVERNMENTS ARE NOT BOUND BY THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION
Here’s one issue. Take this story as an example: “The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request from a religious school in Kentucky to block regulations that temporarily restrict in-person instruction in elementary, middle and upper schools in the state due to Covid-19.”
In other words, a state government is being charged with violating someone’s rights. So, the individuals involved appealed to the federal government. This is dangerous and unconstitutional.
See, a constitution is a job description for a specific government. It doesn’t apply to any other government, just the certain government it was written for. Meaning, every state has its own Constitution. It would be silly to say that the Michigan government did something that violated South Carolina’s Constitution.
Why? Because Michigan’s Constitution governs Michigan’s government and protects Michigan’s citizens from Michigan’s government, while South Carolina’s Constitution does the same for South Carolina—but not for Michigan.
So, why don’t we treat the U.S. Constitution in the same way? It protects us from the Federal government. If the federal government infringes upon our rights, we take it up with the federal government according to their Constitution. But when our states violate our rights and we appeal to the federal government, specifically the Supreme Court, we’re giving the federal government exactly what it wants.
We’ve bequeathed upon the Supreme Court the ultimate power of making a blanket statement about some issue that will now change the entire nation.
Rather, we should take our complaints about state infringement of rights to our state courts based on our state Constitutions. We don’t need to force our way of living on other states by taking our complaints to the Supreme Court.
Not to mention, the Supreme Court sees this as an opportunity to act at the final arbiter, the final court of review, establishing new norms or shooting down potential game changes cases.
THE COURTS DO NOT HAVE UNFETTERED POWER
Did you know that the courts cannot Constitutionally, legally make law? This means that every single ruling they give that essentially re-writes “unconstitutional” law, is, in itself, unconstitutional?
The courts are more than welcome to say that a law or executive action is unconstitutional, but it is then incumbent upon the branch that acted unconstitutionally to rectify their unconstitutional behavior.
Otherwise, we really have one branch of government pulling the strings of the other two branches.
If the courts can simply nullify and rewrite every law and every executive behavior, why do we even have an executive and legislative?
Here’s the other thing. If we keep things local and within the realm of government they belong, we can start pressuring all the branches of government to do their job and check each other.
Do you realize that the legislatures of most U.S. governments are able to completely circumvent state and federal court rulings and behaviors?
To start, most legislatures hold the power of delegating the court’s legal jurisdiction. In other words, the courts can only rule on what the legislature wants them to rule on.
Further, if the court rules on something that the legislature either dislikes or finds unconstitutional, the legislature can:
- Pass a constitutional amendment that nullifies the court’s claim for unconstitutionality.
- Write a new, slightly different law, that does the same thing the courts just nullified. The legislature can play this game forever.
- Change, or threaten to change, the make up of the courts, and the jurisdiction of the court cases.
- Refuse to fund any of the executive agencies tasked with implementing the court’s new “law”.
And this doesn’t even include what the executive can also do to either ignore, nullify or twist the court’s ruling on some issue.
Ultimately, the American citizenry is so set on believing that once a court has ruled a certain way on an issue, the issue is settled for good. All the while, Americans ignore the obvious power the other two branches hold over the judicial branch VIA THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE.
The courts are the only branch not empowered or equipped by the people. The legislative and executive are attached to the people and will respond to us if pressured appropriately.
It’s about time the people start reminding the legislative and executive branches that they are not weaker than the judicial branch. No, they are stronger and are supposed to be the critical constitutional check on the judicial branch they were made to be.
We need to dispel the lie, for ourselves, our communities and our governments, that when the court rules a certain way, their ruling is final.
That’s simply not true.
It’s high time we remembered that.
The Liberty Belle