By Sam C. Holliday July 8, 2012
The Supreme Court’s decisions at the end of June 2012, regarding health care and stolen valor, illustrate what happens when Secular Authority and Sacred Authority are not kept separate, equal, and mutually supporting each other — as our Founders intended. We need to realize that those who wrote the Declaration of Independence would be confused, and shocked, by these decisions, since the decisions so contradict the Founders’ thinking.
The Founders wrote the Constitution to state their views on Secular Authority (rules, regulations, and laws of government plus the processes and procedures to enforce them). For them, the content of the Constitution, and what was constitutional, was to be determined by the sovereign — i.e. the citizens, through their representatives. The Supreme Court was responsible for judicial power — i.e., to determine legality of specific actions. It was to be the weakest of the three branches. Yet through the unchallenged claim of the Supreme Court as the final authority on constitutionality, that same Court has, over the years, taken on power equal to the divine right of kings — which our Founders wanted to avoid.
However, it is clear that the Founders thought the republic they wanted to establish could survive only if Sacred Authority and Secular Authority, as specified in the Constitution, checked and balanced each other. This view is expressed in their claim that all citizens of the USA are endowed with unalienable rights, and that government derives its powers from the consent of the governed. In other words, there must be reliance on the inner compass of individual citizens.
Sacred Authority is that which cannot be violated or ignored. It shapes the inner compass of individuals so they can make judgments between right and wrong, good and evil. It is expressed in beliefs based on moral, ethical, philosophic, and religious convictions.
If Sacred Authority had checked and balanced Secular Authority, the heath care and stolen valor issues would never have been elevated to the Supreme Court for decisions. They would have been resolved at much lower levels — in many different ways. Those citizens who share views on such matters would have determined what they considered right and proper through consensus.
It is only because our political elite has turned all such matters over to the legal system that our country ends up with the Supreme Court as the final decision-maker — replacing the citizens as sovereign. The political elite in many different countries has found that the Hegelian dialectic increases their influence, power, and wealth through a legal system that resolves issues through debates over thesis versus antithesis to be resolved at a higher level through a synthesis.
In many ways, the decision on the Stolen Valor Act is an even greater tragedy than what happened on heath care. Attitudes that do not recognize the importance of duty, honor, country, and valor have been associated with the decline of all great nations in the past.
The Stolen Valor Act had nothing to do with freedom of speech or the making of money, but it is at the heart of success or failure in combat to protect the nation. However, Secular Authority does not recognize such things — they are in the realm of Sacred Authority.
But will Americans today see this as our Founders did? Or will they continue to frame everything in legal terms? Since the legal mindset, the adversarial approach to decision-making, and the centralization of power have been so firmly established by the political elite — in order to advance their own interests — it is doubtful that things will change. Americans will probably continue to ask, Is it legal? rather than asking, Is it right?
Perhaps one of these days the advantages of stability through equilibrium, decentralization, and individual citizens being the sovereign will again be recognized. But there are very few examples in history of this being done. Usually the political elite continues to centralize power through government until the decay and decline cause a complete fall; only then is it possible for a new cycle to begin.
The SCOTUS has wandered far afield of their original purpose, and need to be reined in. It’s their job to determine only whether a law or action is constitutional. Lately, they’re acting like a civil court, where judges can render justice and compromise. It’s not the job of the SCOTUS to render justice or tweak laws, but rather to state whether the lower courts ruling or justice are constitutional. In the recent case, SCOTUS was asked to rule on whether 0bamacare was constitutional. It’s a yes or no question, but they did more, actually defining and characterizing the law, and tweaking it.
The Supreme Court isn’t. (Supreme, that is.)
Most people don’t know this salient fact. Namely, that Supreme Court opinions are NOT listed among the components of the Constitution’s Supreme Law of the Land. “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.”
NO WHERE is it stated that the opinions of any federal (or state) judge is part of the supreme law.
And BTW, when the Constitution uses the phrase “this Constitution,” it means the written one, not the imagined one conjured up in the empty spaces of 9 dudes and dudettes wearing black robes.
Yeah, but there’s still that little thing called Marbury v Madison which says the SCOTUS’ word on the constitutionality of a law is final.
Not that I agree with it, but try finding a judge at any level who will strike down Marbury v Madison. Precedent, gentlemen!
Congratulations, Sam Holliday, on an article with the largeness of vision to raise the discourse above legal technicalities, and up into the higher air of “right” and “wrong” in God’s vision. Sadly, I agree with you about their being no example in all of recorded history where a people fallen this far, ever “recovered” their senses, and survived. Dominus vobiscum, my friend.
SCH: “Sacred Authority is that which cannot be violated or ignored. It shapes the inner compass of individuals so they can make judgments between right and wrong, good and evil.”
The sacred authority held in common by all Americans was proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. While the Bible and religious authorities are important in religious life, neither was essential or desirable as our national sacred authority since not all people can agree on the Bible’s interpretation or agree with the religious authorities. No; our Founding Fathers selected the self-evident law of nature and nature’s God to be our national sacred authority because, as Thomas Jefferson stated: “This was the object of the Declaration of Independence… to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent… it was intended to be an expression of the American mind…” We need look no further than the Declaration of Independence as the sacred authority of the United States of America; it cannot be violated or ignored because it shapes our inner social compass so we can make social judgments between right and wrong. Our Declaration of Independence is the source of American social justice; it is our supreme un-amendable natural law – the supreme sacred authority of the United States of America.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Thomas Jefferson
Good stuff! A compass works because it points to the same true (actually magnetic) North for everyone. A moral compass works for those who believe in God because it points to the same truth for them all. But a compass that points to wherever its owner decides is true North is a child’s toy, a spinning wheel that leads to aimless wandering.
sfj in Alabama
Well said. A judge’s “feelings” and “moral views” mean nothing. The constitution is the document to be followed not one’s “feelings”. BTW, who cares what some law professor thinks? We have 1 these idiots in the whith house now.
Ed Watts in San Jacinto, CA
The “general welfare” clause of The Constitution tells us that Congress should “…lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States.” If the “common defense…of the United States” involves a military organization which protects the country as a whole — but does not, necessarily, protect any one individual — should the “general Welfare” not be assumed to be similar? Where did/do the courts get the idea that Congress should provide for anyone’s individual welfare if Congress is not obligated to provide for anyone’s individual defense? If The Founders had meant for individuals’ welfare to be provided for, they would have used the words “the people” instead of “the United States”, just like they did elsewhere in The Constitution.
The intent of the “general Welfare” clause was that Congress should avoid debt and act in the interest of the nation, NOT individual Americans.
Let’s talk about the highest of the high on the echelon of federal judges: Supreme Court justices. One in particular comes to mind in the last week or so. His name is Chief Justice John Roberts, the high-court jurist who wrote perhaps the most dishonest majority decision in the history of the nation, upholding Obamacare as a constitutional tax. But then again, it was revealed on the streets of the capital just a few days ago that Roberts not only wrote the majority decision, but before he miraculously switched sides and voted with the leftist wing of the Supreme Court – socialist Justices Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor – he had also written what ultimately became the minority opinion signed by conservative justices Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy.
John Roberts: Bribery or blackmail?
Exclusive: Larry Klayman wants an investigation of chief justice’s apparent flip-flop
What explains Chief Justice Roberts’ conversion from one who had decided to strike down Obamacare to a justice who dishonestly twisted and perverted the law to uphold it as constitutional? Was it simply a desire, as some political and legal pundits have speculated, to allegedly “save” the institution of the court by caving in to the left – which in recent years had railed against the conservative majority – and kissing the derriere of President Obama himself? In this way was Chief Justice Roberts painting “his” court as the court for all people, be they left, right, black or white ? Or was it something more sinister? Given real-world realities, you have to ask whether Roberts was bribed or blackmailed into precipitously turning tail and casting his lot with the socialists.
Decades ago, no rational person would have even dared to think such a thought. But with each passing decade since the 1950s – which it now appears were the pinnacle in America’s post-war rise to power and greatness – the ethics, morals and honesty of our public officials in particular have decayed into the slimy free fall the nation now finds itself in. So why is this such a far-fetched proposition?
Whether Chief Justice Roberts was bribed, blackmailed or just playing political games with his Obamacare change of heart? As the old proverb goes, “Where there is smoke there is usually fire.” Since judges and, in this case, justices should not be treated as royalty, and certainly are not above the law, is it not reasonable for Roberts to be thoroughly investigated over his lawless actions?
His decision certainly did not serve to preserve the Supreme Court’s image of integrity. On the contrary, it left the court looking impotent and scared. It made Obama look strong and the court weak. Now, no one trusts the court, certainly not to save the country from unconstitutional laws or infringements on liberty.
I have to say, knowing judges, as I do, to be the weak men they are, that the thought expressed occurs to me, too. Roberts strikes me as a homo who is afraid to come out and very vulnerable to blackmail, like Hoover was.
As Obama himself explained in a 1995 interview with the Chicago Reader (unearthed by Obama biographer Stanley Kurtz), the “right-wing … individualistic bootstrap myth” needed replacing. “We must unite in collective action,” Obama said, “build collective institutions and organizations.” That certainly describes SCOTUS-approved Obamacare.
Taking the long view, we might say the collectivists inspired by the Russian Revolution of 1917 have won. The individual has lost. The state has only grown, and liberty has only shrunk. The fireworks went off all right, but somehow, the home of the brave remains in the dark.
At least until November, when we get one more chance.