Courts Are Above The Constitution?

ICE wrote: Interesting logic. Rights predate the Constitution, but then so do the courts; thus court rulings prior to the Constitution overrule it?!? Well, as long as they have smart bombs and plenty of MJTF units, I guess DOJ can say whatever it pleases. ICE From: " " Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 23:28:56 +0000 Subject: DOJ Confides Disloyalty to US Const. by WILLIAM MICHAEL KEMP The Vigo Examiner In December 1997, the Unites States Department of Justice received a letter from a group which put forward the position that the right to keep and bear arms was a right held by individuals, predated the Constitution, and was simply affirmed and guaranteed by the second Article of the Bill of Rights, not granted by it. Recently they got their reply, having waited only three months. In a letter dated March 18, 1998, the Department of Justice (DOJ), in the person of James S. Reynolds, Chief of the Terrorism and Violent Crime Section, answered this assertion with a listing of citations of case law, as handed down by the Supreme Court and various U.S. Courts of Appeal over the last sixty years. In these cites, it is asserted that the Constitution does not grant a right to individuals to own and use firearms. All appeared well. The DOJ was in agreement. Not quite. The DOJ went on to assert that because the Constitution is not the source of rights, that at least one of the rights it guarantees does not exist. Reynolds asserts that these court decisions supercede the Constitution, and that the right does not exist because the courts have said it does not exist, regardless of what the Constitution says on the matter. The reply concludes by quoting from a letter from Mary C. Lawton, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, to George Bush, Chairman, Republican National Committee (July 19, 1973): " must be considered as settled that there is no personal constitutional right, under the Second Amendment, to own or use a gun." Mr. Reynolds further confides that this loyalty to the courts, not the Constitution is the position of the current Department of Justice, and that this position has long been held by the Department under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Gun control activists have expressed their satisfaction over this position, and state their intention to further press for limits on individual freedom to and use of firearms. Several have noted, however, that the blunt statement expressed in this letter from the Department of Justice will likely infuriate the legions of American gun rights activists, and may well make the slow, steady elimination of firearms from personal possession all the more difficult. Gun rights activists also take the position that the Constitution "grants" no rights whatsoever. They cite Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, wherein Jefferson states that men "...are endowed by their Creator" with rights, and that therefore, the Constitution is only the government's solemn written contract to preserve the preexisting rights. Some say this point is blatantly contradicted in the Department of Justice letter, and by several of the case law cites which are invoked to support their position. These gun rights adherents further cite the wording of the Bill of Rights itself, which states in part that "..the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." They note that where the phrase "the people" is used in all other parts of the Constitution, it invariably and inarguably means, and is universally accepted as "the collection of individual Americans." Strict Constitutional constructionists, they attack the Justice Department's reliance on case law, and claim that the Department of Justice's reliance upon "the Courts'" opinions is akin to the defendants at Nuremberg (war criminals trials after World War II) claiming to be "following orders," and point out that each Constitutional officer is required to swear an individual oath to the Constitution, not the courts. They say that Article VI of the Constitution requires strict adherence by all legislative, executive, and judicial officers to the Constitution, not the courts. They further cite Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, pointing out that this foundation of American government requires that the people alter or abolish any government which fails to support the premise of individual rights, subsequently guaranteed by the Constitution. They allege that any judge (or any government employee) who has taken the position that government is not absolutely bound to support individual rights over the delegated power of government is in violation of their oath of office, and has thus vacated their office and their authority. The Department of Justice's position is currently demonstrated in several situations present in the news, most recently in the arrest of several men in Michigan, accused of possessing what the Department of Justice refers to as "illegal firearms." One of the firearms in question is called, by government attorneys, a "sniper rifle accurate to over a mile." At least one of the defendants in that case is alleging in his defense that there is no such thing as an "illegal firearm" when possessed by a free American. A gun rights and citizens' militia activist was interviewed at a shooting range, and prior to the interview, used a bolt action rifle with telescopic sights to demonstrate the accuracy of the firearm. From a sandbagged position, he fired several shots in succession at targets not visible to the naked eye at the considerable distance covered. Upon examination, several soft drink bottle caps and brass shell casings were observed with bullet holes through them. He referred to the firearm as "a deer rifle." The man, who spoke with the assurance of anonymity, scoffed at the promised anonymity. "They know who I am," he stated. When questioned who "they" were, he replied "the government-- or, I should say, their secret police." Pushed for an explanation, he pointed out that this reporter had no difficulty in locating a spokesman for the gun activists' viewpoint. He further pointed out that he was routinely contacted at home by various representatives of the media. He then asserted that government employees were indeed anonymous, removed from the citizenry over whom they allege control, and that they were following the same path embarked upon by representatives of King George in colonial times in the effort to further their unlawful control over the citizenry. This gentleman asserted that the founders of the United States pointedly affirmed the right of Americans to keep and bear arms, ascribed the success of the revolution against England to the armed citizenry, and trumpeted the American government as being qualitatively different from all the other governments of the world, in that the government not only trusted the citizenry to be armed, but in fact depended upon the citizens' armament to maintain their hard-won freedom. "King George assumed the power to disarm Americans, and his representatives attempted to exercise that power," he stated. "That government was proven to be in error." Not all gun rights activists, however, are so alienated by the actions and attitude of the DOJ. The National Rifle Association, a long time supporter of law enforcement, successfully lobbied for passage of HR 666 in January of 1995. This law allows warrantless search and seazure. Some have alleged that it has completely compromised the Fourth Amendment. The Department of Justice maintains the position stated in the referenced letter.

Copyright (c) 1998, The Vigo Examiner

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Last updated on 03/27/03 04:02 PM