America’s founders, largely distrustful of centralized power, created several checks and balances into the U.S. Constitution to help ensure that one person, or one group of people, would not be able to unilaterally exert his or their will over the American citizenry. First, the federal government itself was divided into three separate and distinct branches–each holding the capability (and responsibility) to check the power of the other. Second, the Bill of Rights was made part of the Constitution for the protection of individual liberties. Third, the “free and independent states” of the nation retained their sovereignty and independence after the central government was created (by the states), with the Tenth Amendment specifically recognizing their authority and jurisdiction over matters not directly delegated to the federal government.
It was also assumed that the freedom of the press and the freedom of religion would help the citizenry be sufficiently informed and inspired to keep the would-be despots at bay. And, of course, “We the People” are recognized as being the ultimate guardians of liberty by the recognition that “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (Declaration) The “consent of the governed” was given teeth by the constitutional recognition of the people’s right to wield the power of the voting booth, the jury box, and, as a last resort, the cartridge box.
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What has become increasingly obvious to a large segment of the American populace is the complete unwillingness of the national media to hold the federal government accountable. Neither do America’s pulpits provide the moral leadership necessary to maintain good government. The freedom of the press and religion accomplish precious little today in the safeguarding of liberty. And it is also absolutely clear that the three branches of government in Washington, D.C. adamantly refuse to use the constitutional obligations placed upon them to hold the federal government in check.
The latter was made crystal clear by a recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. Here is the report:
“A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court means the federal government now has an open door to ‘detain as a threat to national security anyone viewed as a troublemaker,’ according to critics.
“The high court this week refused to review an appeals court decision that said the president and U.S. military can arrest and indefinitely detain individuals.
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“The firm of William J. Olson, P.C., which filed a friend-of-the court brief asking the court to step in, noted that not a single justice dissented from the denial of the request for review.
‘The court ducked, having no appetite to confront both political parties in order to protect the citizens from military detention,’ the legal team said in a statement to WND. ‘The government has won, creating a tragic moment for the people–and what will someday be viewed as an embarrassment for the court.'”
The report continues: “The controversial provision authorizes the military, under presidential authority, to arrest, kidnap, detain without trial and hold indefinitely American citizens thought to ‘represent an enduring security threat to the United States.’
“Journalist Chris Hedges was among the plaintiffs charging the law could be used to target journalists who report on terror-related issues.
“A friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case stated: ‘The central question now before this court is whether the federal judiciary will stand idly by while Congress and the president establish the legal framework for the establishment of a police state and the subjugation of the American citizenry through the threat of indefinite military arrest and detention, without the right to counsel, the right to confront one’s accusers, or the right to trial.’
“The brief was submitted to the Supreme Court by attorneys with the U.S. Justice Foundation of Ramona, California; Friedman Harfenist Kraut & Perlstein of Lake Success, New York; and William J. Olson, P.C. of Vienna, Virginia.”
Amici Curiae of the brief included U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman, Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, Virginia Senator Dick Black, Gun Owners of America, the Downsize DC Foundation, the Western Center for Journalism, The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, the Tenth Amendment Center, the Policy Analysis Center, the Constitution Party National Committee, Professor Jerome Aumente, and yours truly, among others.
The WND report goes on to say: “The 2012 NDAA was fast-tracked through the U.S. Senate, with no time for discussion or amendments, while most Americans were distracted by the scandal surrounding A&E’s troubles with ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson.
“Eighty-five of 100 senators voted in favor of the new version of the NDAA, which had already been quietly passed by the House of Representatives. [Disgustingly, Montana’s only U.S. House member, Republican Steve Daines, who purports himself to be a staunch conservative, voted for the indefinite detention provision of the NDAA, as did Montana’s two Democrat Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester. How did your congressman and senators vote? In my opinion, this is a monumentally-important vote; and a vote granting this unconstitutional power to the military and federal police agencies is inexcusable and demonstrates how both Democrats and Republicans will unite together to dismantle the constitutional protections of the American people in the name of “national security.”]
“Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and others filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the Obama administration to challenge the legality of an earlier version of the NDAA.
“It is Section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA, and its successors, that drew a lawsuit by Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Jennifer Bolen, Noam Chomsky, Alex O’Brien, Kai Warg All, Brigitta Jonsottir and the group U.S. Day of Rage. Many of the plaintiffs are authors or reporters who stated that the threat of indefinite detention by the U.S. military already had altered their activities.
“‘It’s clearly unconstitutional,’ Hedges said of the bill. ‘It is a huge and egregious assault against our democracy. It overturns over 200 years of law, which has kept the military out of domestic policing.’
“Hedges is a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times and was part of a team of reporters awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism.”
Remember that it was Republican President George W. Bush and a Republican U.S. House and Senate that shackled the American people with the USA Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security–along with the rest of the gargantuan police state apparatus under which the people of the United States are now being forced to live. And it is Democrat President Barack Obama and a Democrat U.S. Senate–along with a Republican U.S. House–that continues to expand the reach of this police state. One thing that both Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals agree on is the construction and implementation of a police state. Under the rubric of “national security” or “law and order,” the Bill of Rights is being systematically and deliberately expunged by both sides of the political aisle.
And now we know the judicial branch of government in Washington, D.C. also refuses to hold the executive and legislative branches of government in check–as if we needed more evidence. Both Republican-appointed and Democrat-appointed justices refused to say a word condemning this draconian abuse of power within the NDAA. By so doing, the Supreme Court showed itself unwilling to stand in between the liberties of the American people and an ever-burgeoning police state.
In fact, when it comes to holding the government in DC in check, when does the Supreme Court ever intervene? Hardly ever! If it is a dispute between the states and the federal government, or between individuals and the federal government, SCOTUS almost always rules in favor of DC.
Once in a while, one or the other branch of government (including the judicial branch) in DC will be willing to protect constitutional liberties from another branch of government in DC; but such instances are the exception, not the rule.
And since the liberties of the American people have few friends in the national media or in the country’s pulpits, the protection of our freedoms has quickly come down to the states, the local media (yes, some local media is still friendly to freedom), county sheriffs, and the people ourselves.
Currently, there is a huge momentum building among State legislatures to begin pushing back against the overreach of Washington, D.C. For example, the State of Texas is squaring off against the BLM over tens of thousands of acres along the Red River border of Texas and Oklahoma; and the State of Utah has already passed legislation claiming more than 30 million acres currently controlled by the federal government. Here is an excerpt from a Breitbart.com report:
“Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R), earlier this year, signed the Transfer of Public Lands Act. This new state law calls upon the federal government to turn over control of more than 30 million acres to the State.”
Plus, more and more county sheriffs are beginning to stand against federal encroachments. Read this report.
And, of course, just recently, it was “We the People” standing against a brutish, totalitarian-style federal assault against the Bundy family in Bunkerville, Nevada. And among the brave souls at Bunkerville were State and local officials and even county sheriffs. And I was there, too. Here is the video of my message to, and prayer service for, the Oath Keepers and militia on the ground there in Bunkerville:
As the three branches of government in Washington, D.C. become less and less accountable to the checks and balances assigned them by the Constitution, it is going to require that the states, county sheriffs, and people ourselves become more and more engaged in pushing back against federal overreach and abuse of power.
P.S. I have been inundated with requests from people across the country asking me to help them start unincorporated, non-501c3 churches. In this column next week, I will launch a major initiative in response to these appeals. I urge readers to not miss my column next week.
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(c) Chuck Baldwin
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.