Publius-Huldah's Blog

Understanding the Constitution

Why Supreme Court opinions are not the “Law of the Land”, and how to put federal judges in their place.

By Publius Huldah

Central to the silly arguments made by the “Convention of States Project” (COSP) is their claim that 200 years of Supreme Court opinions have increased the powers of the federal government (as well as legalized practices such as abortion); that all these opinions are “the Law of the Land”; and we need an Article V convention so we can get amendments to the Constitution which take away all these powers the Supreme Court gave the federal government.

But the text of Article V contradicts COSP’s claim. Article V shows that our Constitution can be amended only when three fourths of the States ratify proposed amendments. The Supreme Court has no power to amend our Constitution. And it’s impossible for an amendment to take away powers our Constitution doesn’t grant.

1. First Principles

Let’s analyze COSP’s silly argument. We begin by looking at First Principles:

♦The Judicial Branch was created by Art. III, §1, US Constitution. Accordingly, it is a “creature” of the Constitution. 1

♦The federal government came into existence when the States, acting through special ratifying conventions held in each of the States, ratified the Constitution.2

Since the Judicial Branch is merely a “creature” of the Constitution, it follows that it is subordinate to the Constitution, and is completely subject to its terms. It may not annul the superior authority of the States which created the Judicial Branch when they ratified the Constitution; 3 and as a mere “creature” of the Constitution, it may NOT change the Constitution under which it holds its existence! 4

 

2. Supreme Court Opinions are not “the Law of the Land”

Article VI, cl.2, US Constit., the “supremacy clause”, defines “supreme Law of the Land” as the Constitution, and acts of Congress and Treaties which are authorized by the Constitution. Supreme Court opinions aren’t included!

Furthermore, Art. I, §1, US Constit., vests all law-making powers granted by the Constitution in Congress. Our Constitution doesn’t grant any lawmaking powers to the Judicial Branch.

So why does everybody say, as we heard during the Kavanagh confirmation hearings, that Roe v. Wade is “the Law of the Land”? Because Americans have been conditioned to believe that the Supreme Court is superior to our Constitution; that their opinions about our Constitution are “law”, and we are bound by them unless and until they issue new opinions which release us from their previous opinions.

 

3. Organic & statutory law and the totally different “common law” precedent followed in courts

Americans have been conditioned to ignore the huge distinctions between organic and statutory law, on the one hand; and the common law which is embodied in the precedents followed by judges in litigation.

Organic Law

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “organic law” as

“The fundamental law, or constitution, of a state or nation, written or unwritten; 5 that law or system of laws or principles which defines and establishes the organization of its government.”

The organic laws of the United States are

  • The Declaration of Independence – 1776
  • Articles of Confederation – 1777
  • Ordinance of 1787: The Northwest Territorial Government
  • Constitution of the United States – 1787

The Articles of Confederation was our first Constitution. It was replaced by our Constitution of 1787 when it was ratified June 21, 1788. The Northwest Ordinance was superseded by the transformation of the area covered by the Ordinance into States [pursuant to Art. IV, §3, cl. 2, US Constit.].

Do you see how absurd is the claim that the Supreme Court, a mere “creature” of the Constitution of 1787, has the power to change the Organic Law of the United States?

Statute Law

Black’s Law Dictionary defines “statute law” as the

“Body of written laws that have been adopted by the legislative body.”

As we saw above, all legislative Powers granted by our Constitution are vested in Congress (Art. I, §1). Acts of Congress qualify as part of the “supreme Law of the Land” only when they are made pursuant to Authority granted to Congress by the Constitution (Art.VI, cl. 2). When Acts of Congress are not authorized by the Constitution, they are mere usurpations and must be treated as such.6

Common Law

The “common law” applied in courts in the English-speaking countries came from the Bible.7 The Bible has much to say about our relations with each other: don’t murder people, don’t maim them, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness, don’t tell lies about people, don’t be negligent, don’t cheat or defraud people, and such. The Bible provides for Judges to decide disputes between people and empowers Judges to require the person who has violated these precepts to pay restitution to the person whom he harmed. So, e.g., the Biblical prohibitions against bearing false witness and slandering people became our modern day concepts of slander, libel, and defamation. These principles were applied in the English courts from time immemorial, and are applied in American Courts. Modern day American attorneys litigate these common law concepts all the time. So if I am representing a client in an action for say, fraud, I look at the previous court opinions in the jurisdiction on fraud, and see how the courts in that jurisdiction have defined fraud – i.e., I look for “precedents” – the courts’ previous opinions on the subject – and I expect the Judge on my case to obey that precedent. 8

THIS is the “common law”. It is “law” in the sense that it originated with God’s Word; and from “time immemorial” has been applied in the Courts of English speaking countries. But this precedent is binding or persuasive only on courts. 9 As precedent for judges to follow, it is never “the law of the land”!

So, keep these three categories – organic, statutory, and common law – separate, and do not confuse court precedent with the “Law of the Land”. The latter is restricted to the Organic Law, and statutes and treaties authorized by the Organic Law.

Now let’s look at the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal courts.

 

4. What kinds of cases do federal courts have constitutional authority to hear?

The ten categories of cases the Judicial Branch has authority to hear are enumerated at Art. III, §2, cl. 1, US Constit. 10

The first category is cases “arising under this Constitution”. In Federalist No. 80 (2nd para), Hamilton shows these cases concern “provisions expressly contained” in the Constitution. He then points to the restrictions on the authority of the State Legislatures [listed at Art. I, §10], and shows that if a State exercises any of those prohibited powers, and the federal government sues the State, the federal courts would have authority to hear the case (3rd & 13th paras).

So if a State enters into a Treaty, or grants Letters of Marque & Reprisal, or issues paper money, or does any of the other things prohibited by Art. I, §10, the controversy would “arise under the Constitution” and the federal courts have constitutional authority to hear the case.

Likewise, if a State passed a law which violated the Constitution – say one requiring candidates in their State for US Senate to be 40 years of age – instead of the 30 years prescribed at Art. I, §3, cl. 3 – the federal courts have constitutional authority to hear the case.

So the purpose of this category is to authorize the Judicial Branch to enforce the Constitution – not re-write it!! 11

Now let’s look at one way the Supreme Court butchered our Constitution in order to strike down State Laws they didn’t like.

 

5. How the Supreme Court violated the “arising under” clause to hear cases they have no constitutional authority to hear

Let’s use “abortion” to illustrate the usurpation. Obviously, “abortion” is not “expressly contained” in the Constitution. So abortion doesn’t “arise under” the Constitution; and the constitutionality of State Statutes prohibiting abortion doesn’t fit into any of the other nine categories of cases federal courts have authority to hear. Accordingly, federal courts have no judicial power over it. The Supreme Court had to butcher words in our Constitution in order to usurp power to legalize abortion. This is what they did:

The original intent of §1 of the 14th Amendment was to extend citizenship to freed slaves and to provide constitutional authority for the federal Civil Rights Act of 1866. That Act protected freed slaves from Southern Black Codes which denied them God-given rights. 12

Now look at §1 where it says, “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;”

That’s the “due process” clause. As Professor Berger points out [ibid.], it has a precise meaning which goes back to the Magna Charta: it means that a person’s life, liberty or property can’t be taken away from him except by the judgment of his peers pursuant to a fair trial.

But this is how the Supreme Court perverted the genuine meaning of that clause: In Roe v. Wade (1973), they looked at the word, “liberty” in the due process clause and said, “liberty” means “privacy”, and “privacy” means “a woman can kill her unborn baby”. 13

And they claimed they had jurisdiction to overturn State Laws criminalizing abortion because the issue arises under the Constitution at §1 of the 14th Amendment! [ibid.]

The Supreme Court redefined words in Our Constitution to justify the result they wanted in the case before them.

The Supreme Court didn’t “enforce” the Constitution – they butchered it to fabricate a “constitutional right” to kill unborn babies.

And the lawyers said, “It’s the Law of the Land”; the People yawned; and the clergy said, “the Bible says we have to obey civil government – besides, we don’t want to lose our 501 (c) (3) tax exemption!”

 

6. What are the remedies when the Supreme Court violates the Constitution?

The opinions of which the convention lobby complains constitute violations of our Constitution. 14 The three remedies our Framers provided or advised for judicial violations of our Constitution are:

1. In Federalist No. 81 (8th para), Hamilton shows Congress can impeach and remove from office federal judges who violate the Constitution. Congress is competent to decide whether federal judges have violated the Constitution! Impeachment is their “check” on the Judicial Branch.

2. In Federalist No. 78 (6th para), Hamilton shows the Judicial Branch must rely on the Executive Branch to enforce its judgments. If the President, in the exercise of his independent judgment and mindful of his Oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”, determines that an opinion of a federal court is unconstitutional; his Duty is to refuse to enforce it. The President is also competent to decide whether federal judges have violated the Constitution! Refusing to enforce their unconstitutional judgments is his “check” on the Judicial Branch.

3. On the Right & Duty of the States – who created the federal government when they ratified the Constitution – to smack down their “creature” when their “creature” violates the Constitutional Compact the States made with each other, see Nullification: The Original Right of Self-Defense.

Endnotes:

1Creature” is the word our Founders used – e.g., Federalist No. 33 (5th para) & Jefferson’s draft of The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 (8th Resolution).

2Art. VII, cl. 1, US Constit., sets forth ratification procedures for our Constitution.

3 Madison’s Virginia Report of 1799-1800 (pp 190-196).

4 Madison’s Journal of the Federal Convention of 1787 shows that on July 23, 1787, the Delegates discussed who was competent to ratify the proposed new Constitution. Col. Mason said it is “the basis of free Government” that only the people are competent to ratify the new Constitution, and

“…The [State] Legislatures have no power to ratify it. They are the mere creatures of the State Constitutions, and cannot be greater than their creators…”

Madison agreed that State Legislatures were incompetent to ratify the proposed Constitution – it would make essential inroads on the existing State Constitutions, and

“…it would be a novel & dangerous doctrine that a Legislature could change the constitution under which it held its existence….”

It’s equally novel & dangerous to say that the Supreme Court may change the Constitution under which it holds its existence.

5 It is said England doesn’t have a written constitution.

6 Acts of Congress which are not authorized by the enumerated powers are void. They are not made “in Pursuance” of the Constitution and have supremacy over nothing. Federalist No. 27 (last para) says:

“…the laws of the Confederacy [the federal government], as to the ENUMERATED and LEGITIMATE objects of its jurisdiction, will become the SUPREME LAW of the land; to the observance of which all officers, legislative, executive, and judicial, in each State, will be bound by the sanctity of an oath. Thus the legislatures, courts, and magistrates, of the respective members [the States], will be incorporated into the operations of the national government AS FAR AS ITS JUST AND CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY EXTENDS…” [capitals are Hamilton’s]

See also Federalist No. 33 (last 2 paras) and Federalist No. 78 (10th para).

7 John Whitehead mentions the Biblical origin of the common law in The Second American Revolution.

8 Art. III, §2, cl.1 delegates to federal courts power to hear “Controversies between Citizens of different States.” Much of the litigation conducted in federal courts falls into this category. These lawsuits aren’t about the Constitution. Instead, they involve the range of issues people fight about in State Courts: personal injury, breach of contract, business disputes, fighting over property, slander & libel, etc. In deciding these cases, federal judges are expected to follow the “common law” precedents.

9 In Federalist No. 78 (next to last para), Hamilton discusses how judges are bound by “precedents” which define and point out their duty in the particular cases which come before them.

10 In Federalist No. 83 (8th para), Hamilton says:

“…the…authority of the federal …[courts]…is declared by the Constitution to comprehend certain cases particularly specified. The expression of those cases marks the precise limits, beyond which the federal courts cannot extend their jurisdiction…”

11 James Madison agreed that the purpose of the “arising under this Constitution” clause is to enable federal courts to enforce the Constitution. At the Virginia Ratifying convention on June 20, 1788, he explained the categories of cases federal courts have authority to hear. As to “cases arising under this Constitution”, he said:

“…That causes of a federal nature will arise, will be obvious to every gentleman, who will recollect that the states are laid under restrictions; and that the rights of the union are secured by these restrictions. They may involve equitable as well as legal controversies…”

12 This is proved in Harvard Professor Raoul Berger’s meticulously documented book, Government by Judiciary: The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

13 In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court said under Part VIII of their opinion:

“…This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is … is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy…”

14 Many Supreme Court opinions violate our Constitution. Wickard v. Filburn (1942), discussed HERE, is another of the most notorious. But we elect to Congress people who don’t know our Constitution or The Federalist Papers; and they are unaware of their Duty – imposed by their Oath of office – to function as a “check” on the Judicial Branch by impeaching federal judges who violate our Constitution.

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November 25, 2018 Posted by | 14th Amendment, 3000 page constitution, Abortion, annotated constitution, Article V Convention, common law, Convention of States project, Creature of the Compact, due process clause, Enumerated Powers of Federal Courts, federal judges, Judicial Abuse, Law of the Land, Nullification, organic law, precedents, Publius Huldah, Roe v. Wade, statute law, The Judicial Branch | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What the Framers really said about the purpose of amendments to our Constitution

By Publius Huldah

One of the silliest of the many unsupported claims made by those lobbying for an Article V convention is that our Framers said that when the federal government violates the Constitution, the remedy is to amend the Constitution.1

It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that their claim makes as much sense as saying that since people violate the Ten Commandments, God should amend the Ten Commandments.2

And since none of our Framers said such a silly thing, the convention lobby can’t produce a quote where it was said.

Even so, some have believed it and repeated it to others. Americans! We must demand that people prove their claims before we believe what they tell us.

I will show you original source documents, and you can see for yourself what our Framers really said about the purpose of amendments to our Constitution.

Madison’s Journal of the Federal Convention of 1787

James Madison was a delegate to the federal convention of 1787 where our present Constitution was drafted. He kept a daily Journal. I went through it, collected every reference to what became Article V, and wrote it up – here it is.

Madison’s Journal shows what our Framers said at the convention about the purpose of amendments to our Constitution:

♦ Elbridge Gerry said on June 5, 1787: the “novelty & difficulty of the experiment requires periodical revision.”

♦George Mason said on June 11, 1787: The Constitution now being formed “will certainly be defective,” as the Articles of Confederation have been found to be. “Amendments therefore will be necessary, and it will be better to provide for them, in an easy, regular and Constitutional way than to trust to chance and violence. It would be improper to require the consent of the Natl. Legislature, because they may abuse their power, and refuse their consent…The opportunity for such an abuse, may be the fault of the Constitution [i.e., a defect] calling for amendmt.” [boldface mine] 3

♦Alexander Hamilton said on Sep. 10, 1787: amendments remedy defects in the Constitution. 4

The Federalist Papers

In Federalist No. 43 at 8, Madison said the purpose of amendments to the Constitution is to repair “discovered faults” and “amendment of errors”; and “amendment of errors” and “useful alterations” would be suggested by experience.

In Federalist No. 85 (13th para), Hamilton said useful amendments would address the “organization of the government, not…the mass of its powers” 5

Throughout Federalist No. 49, Madison warned against a convention for proposing amendments, and showed that a convention is neither proper nor effective to restrain government when it encroaches.

Madison’s letter of August 28, 1830 to Edward Everett (p. 383-403)

Madison says:

“Should the provisions of the Constitution as here reviewed be found not to secure the Govt. & rights of the States agst. usurpations & abuses on the part of the U.S…” (p. 398)

So he is talking about provisions – defects – in the Constitution which permit the federal government to abuse the States. He goes on to say:

“…the final resort within the purview of the Constn. lies in an amendment of the Constn…” 6

So he’s saying that when a defect in the Constitution exposes the States to abuses by the federal government, the remedy is to amend the Constitution.

To fully grasp Madison’s point, we must look at his letter in its historical context of the Tariff Act of 1828: The southern states bought manufactured goods from England. England bought southern cotton. But infant industries in the Northeast couldn’t compete with the English imports. So during 1828, Congress passed a Tariff Act which imposed such high tariffs on English imports that the southern states could no longer buy them. England stopped buying southern cotton. This devastated the southern economy. So South Carolina wanted to nullify the Tariff Act (the “Tariff of Abominations”); and developed a theory that a State had a “constitutional right” to nullify any federal law, and the nullification would be presumed valid, unless three-fourths of the States said it wasn’t valid.

Madison opposed South Carolina’s theory because the Tariff Act was constitutional – it was authorized by Art. I, §8, cl. 1, US Constitution. States can’t nullify a constitutional law! 7

But while the Tariff Act was constitutional, it was abusive: Article I, §8, cl. 1 was being used to benefit infant industries in the Northeast at the expense of the southern states. 8

So what’s the remedy “within the purview of the Constitution” for the Tariff Act of 1828? Madison doesn’t spell it out – but obviously Art. I, §8, cl. 1 could be amended to say that Congress may impose tariffs only to raise revenue to carry out the enumerated powers; and may not impose tariffs in order to benefit domestic industries, or to benefit one section of the Country at the expense of other sections. 9

Washington’s Farewell Address

In his Address, Washington warns that we must require people in the federal government to confine themselves within their constitutional powers; and we must not permit one department [branch] of the federal government to encroach on the powers of the other departments (p. 15-19). He then says,

“If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” (p.19)

So Washington is talking about what the people may come to see as defects in the Constitution:

♦ If we want one branch of the federal government to have a power which the Constitution delegates to another branch, we should amend the Constitution to redistribute that power.10

♦ If we want the federal government to have a power the Constitution doesn’t grant, we should amend the Constitution to delegate the additional power. No matter how desirable it is for the federal government to have the additional power, we must not permit it to exercise the power by usurpation.11

And this is what Alexander Hamilton, who along with James Madison assisted Washington in drafting his Farewell Address, 12 had previously said in Federalist No. 78: The representatives of the people [Congress] may not violate the Constitution even if a majority of their constituents want them to:

“…Until the people have, by some solemn and authoritative act, annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon themselves collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption, or even knowledge, of their sentiments, can warrant their representatives in a departure from it, prior to such an act…” (5th para from the end)

Our Constitution isn’t defective, it’s ignored!

Our Constitution is a 5,000 year miracle. Our problem is everyone ignores it. The solution is to dust it off, read it, learn it, and enforce it. Downsize the federal government to its enumerated powers.

Demand Proof of what people say before you believe them.

If Americans would follow the example of the Bereans (Acts 17:11) and demand proof of the claims the convention lobby makes, they would spot the false claims and preserve our blessed Constitution. Judges & Juries require trial lawyers to prove their claims. Demand the same from lobbyists for a convention!

Endnotes:

1 Michael Farris claimed [but couldn’t link to a quote because Mason didn’t say it]:

“George Mason demanded that this provision [the convention method of proposing amendments] be included in Article V because he correctly forecast the situation we face today. He predicted that Washington, D.C. would violate its constitutional limitations and the States would need to make adjustments to the constitutional text in order to rein in the abuse of power by the federal government.”

2 Amendments can’t “rein in” the fed. gov’t when it “violate[s] its constitutional limitations” because when it does so, it is ignoring the existing limitations on its powers. Hello?

3 Mason’s concern was that the new fed. gov’t wouldn’t agree to amendments needed to correct defects in the new Constitution:

♦ Under the Articles of Confederation (our 1st Constitution), amendments had to be approved by the Continental Congress and all of the States (see ART. 13). So Art. V of the new Constitution dispensed with the requirement that Congress approve amendments.

♦ Who should be able to propose amendments? Madison wanted Congress to propose all amendments, either on their own initiative or at the request of 2/3 of the States. But Mason said the States should be able to propose amendments without asking Congress because Congress might become oppressive and not permit the States to get the necessary amendments.

So the convention method was added. And it provided a way for States to propose amendments. But it also provided a convenient opportunity to get a new Constitution, since the delegates would have that transcendent right, recognized in our Declaration of Independence, to throw off one government and write a new constitution which creates a new government.

George Mason hated the new Constitution. He said on Aug. 31, 1787 that he “would sooner chop off his right hand than put it to the Constitution as it now stands”; and if it wasn’t changed to suit his views, he wanted another convention. Everybody knew that to get a new Constitution, you need a convention.

Madison and the other Framers went along with adding the convention method because they knew the people had the right to meet in convention and draft a new Constitution whether or not the convention method was added to Art. V [e.g., Madison’s letter of Nov. 2, 1788 to Turberville p. 299 at 2.]; and they couldn’t stop People in the future from doing what they had just done. So Madison, Hamilton & John Jay promptly started warning of the dangers of another convention: see the Brilliant Men handout.

4 Here’s an illustration of what States soon saw as a defect in our Constitution: Art. III, §2, cl. 1 delegated to federal courts the power to hear cases “between a State and Citizens of another State”. But when a citizen of South Carolina sued the State of Georgia, the States were outraged! See Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. 419 (1793). So the 11th Amendment was ratified to take away from federal courts the power to hear such cases.

5 The Constitution drafted at the federal convention of 1787 delegates only a tiny handful of powers to the fed. gov’t. See this chart.

6 Madison continues, “… according to a process applicable by the States.” Madison always said that when States want amendments, they should ask their congressional delegation to propose them. E.g., Madison’s letter of Nov. 2, 1788 to Turberville (p. 299 at 2.).

7 See Madison’s Notes on Nullification (1835) HERE (p. 573-607).

8 The Tariff Act of 1828 violated our Founding Principle (2nd para of the Declaration of Independence) that the purpose of government is to secure the rights God gave us. God never gave us the right to be free of competition in business.

9 In the very next paragraph, Madison says that when there is a pattern of usurpations and abuses, we must step outside of the Constitution and resort to the original right of self-defense: resistance, i.e., nullification or revolution (p. 398).

10 E.g., Art. I, §8, cl. 11 delegates to Congress the power to declare war. But if we want the President to have that power, we should amend the Constitution to delegate that power to the President. We must not permit the President to exercise that power by usurpation!

11 If we wanted the fed. gov’t to exercise power over labor unions, wages & hours, safety standards, food & drugs, manufacturing standards, agriculture, energy, housing, transportation, education, medical care, the environment, etc., etc., etc., we should have amended the Constitution to delegate those powers to the fed. gov’t. But we ignored Washington’s advice, and permitted the fed. gov’t to exercise those powers by usurpation.

12 The Introduction to the Farewell Address (p. 3) says that George Washington composed it with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.

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November 11, 2018 Posted by | Amendments to the Constitution, Article V, Article V Convention, Convention of States project, Federalist No. 49, George Mason, James Madison, Madison's Journal of the Federal Convention of 1787, Madison's letter to Edward Everett, Michael Farris, Publius Huldah, Purpose of amendments to constitution, The Ten Commandments, Washington's Farewell Address, What our Framers gave us, what our Framers really said, why convention was added to Art. V | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

   

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