Justice is blind, but thanks to a new procedure, there is hope!

As you may have seen in the news recently, magistrate Lu Ann Ballew at Cocke County Chancery Court decided that a child who had been given the first name of Messiah must have its name changed, based on the magistrate’s argument that only Jesus Christ has earned the title Messiah. Read about it here.

Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew
Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew

Clearly this magistrate is off her constitutional rocker, and I don’t really think we need to debate that here—if taken to a higher court, it will assuredly be struck down. But this issue raises the serious question of what we can do to remove judges who don’t seem to take their oath of office seriously.

The courts have no right to force a parent to change their child’s name. I’ve heard of white supremacists naming their children Adolf, and while those parents disgust me more than a Waffle House steak, it’s their right too. With any luck, such a child will grow up, have more intelligent influences in their life, tell their parents to get bent, and legally change their name as they become an adult. If not, one of the great beauties of America is that you have a Constitutional right to be a hateful stone-cold moron. I’ll let natural selection address that issue, we don’t need courts to do it.

However, this problem has me pondering our current justice system, and specifically the mechanisms to remove derelict judges from the bench.

First things first, let’s outline who we’re talking about and the processes involved.

There are magistrates such as the woman above, who largely administrate civil matters. There are judges who oversee criminal trials, and there are justices who usually sit on either a state or federal supreme court. The terms magistrate, judge, and justice are often interchanged, and there’s no official differences, but the ones I outlined are the more commonly accepted usages, so we’ll use them here for now.

Magistrates and judges are usually a single person overseeing a trial or hearing, whereas justices are almost always part of a committee who decide as one by majority vote, such as the 9 justices who site on our U.S. Supreme court. While justices are kept in check by virtue of their majority-rules platform, magistrates and judges can sometimes make life-changing unconstitutional decisions that affect people who may not have the knowledge or means to advance the decision to a higher court.

The Supreme Court Of The United States
The Supreme Court Of The United States

Different states, counties, and cities may have different procedures and oaths, and some are indeed elected where others are appointed, but the process is largely the same throughout the country for removing them. As it stands now, a judge is usually only removed if they’re convicted of a felony. But what about simply violating their oath to uphold the Constitution? Much like any other career, a felony should not be the sole reason a judge has their gavel forcibly retired. Job performance should be just as relevant.

Judges cannot and should not be removed by popular vote. I know this seems counter-intuitive to some, but the reason is very important. Judges are never supposed to make decisions with consideration to popular opinion. They are there to interpret the federal and/or state constitutions and applicable laws as written, regardless of what the populace desires.

The Constitution exists to protect the minority from the majority after all, so if a judge always sided with popular opinion, the Constitution would become nothing more than a historical document.

Judges should also not be removed by legislators and executives. For non-elected judges, executives often nominate them, and legislators then confirm them, but once a judge is appointed, that judge should not feel a duty to repay the executives or legislators in any way by siding with them or fear being unseated by either of the two other branches of government. Otherwise, our system of checks and balances would be all but destroyed.

So what do I propose then?

I think the answer is simple and two-fold.

1 – All judges should be appointed to one full term, and that term should be no more than 8 years, all the way up to United States Supreme Court. No reelections, no 2nd appointments—8 years—done. If a term limit is proper for the president, it’s proper for judges as well. They ensure no one person becomes too powerful. Why they’re not applied all members of political office, whether it be the president, justices, or legislators, makes no sense to me.

The one term proposal is simply to ensure they never make decisions in an effort to get reelected.

2 – All judges except the U.S. Supreme Court should have the number of times their decisions are overturned recorded and held against them. An overturned decision is an unconstitutional one, something they effectively swore to never do. If they rack up a certain number of overturned decisions, then they shall be removed from office for having violated their oath.

As for SCOTUS justices, removing them gets more tricky. there is no court above the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule them. But also, Supreme court justices are entirely done by committee, as opposed to a single judge making a ruling. The only real option there should be a 2/3 majority vote and a confirmation by the president, but limiting it purely to constitutional grounds. Meaning that 2/3 of the majority and the president agreed that the SCOTUS justice had willingly violated the Constitution in their decision.

The United States Constitution
The United States Constitution

Why is this important? We have three branches of government. Executives enforce law, legislators write law, and judges interpret law. They are intended to balance each other out, but when a justice goes outside written law in their decision, they are legislating from the bench. If they wanted to be a legislator, then they should have chosen that path instead of the judicial route.

My proposal is intended to hold these people accountable for their job performance. I can’t think of too many other careers where a person needs to commit a felony to get fired, why should our government officials be any different? If a free-market employment principles yield better performance in the private sector, it can improve government too.

A Good Police Officer Is A Humble Police Officer

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

I have a great respect for police officers. Like soldiers, they selflessly put their lives on the line for my safety. But a good police officer is a humble one. They understand that they are not above the law—they are there to serve and protect the citizenry. When a humble and respectable person is wrong, they admit it. More importantly, when they’re wrong, and a 12-year-old kid asks for their badge number, they give it up and show dignity and honor for the job they are charged with. This Las Vegas police officer however, has traded such dignity and honor for a sense of entitlement and a god-complex.US_Park_Police_badge[1]

He did something illegal by parking his motorcycle where a motorcycle shouldn’t be parked unless he had been chasing someone, or doing other official police business that required an emergency parking job. As it turns out, he was getting food/drink and he got called out on his illegal parking by young Jeremy Drew, a kid with a pretty good sense of justice.

If this officer had a shred of dignity, he would have looked at Jeremy and said something like, “You know, you’re right. My sincerest apologies. I was wrong to park here. Here’s my badge number, and if you feel a duty to report me, then by all means, you should do so.” Would the officer had been so kind had I parked my motorcycle there while I got lunch?

Las Vegas PD Officer In Question
Las Vegas PD Officer In Question

Then that officer should seriously reflect on why he became a cop in the first place, and whether he’s serious about defending the Constitution and local laws—therefore not violating them himself. He then should either resign if he doesn’t have the honor to do the job properly anymore, or change his way of thinking and behaving if he does.

Many police get upset when we citizens show little respect for them. To those officers I say this: don’t do actions that are disrespectful, hypocritical, arrogant, or plain illegal, and you won’t usually get disrespected. The corrupt among you, the indifferent among you, and the good officers who do nothing about the bad ones, serve as the main reason respect for the badge is waning.

We all know bad cops are bad, but that’s simply not the whole issue. I understand the idea of the police “brotherhood,” but if one of your fellow officer’s is out of line and you accept it, allow it, and/or condone it, you’re indifference might as well be an endorsement. If it is a crime for a person watching a murder to do nothing (depraved indifference), then you as police officers should also do something to stop your fellow officers when they do wrong as well.

The honor for the badge should be far more important than the honor for the random person behind it. If they don’t respond apologetically and remorsefully—showing clear signs such behavior will cease, then maybe a discussion with superiors or internal affairs is in order.

While most police officers are good, the ones that are doing illegal and/or inexcusable acts are rarely dealt with when their offense is only a misdemeanor like above, and this tolerance of bad behavior is exactly why America has shifted from a country that heralded Andy Griffith to a country that embraces the “F*** the police” mantra so prevalent in pop culture these days.

In another instance, on May 26th, 2012, a Portland Maine law student who remained unnamed by choice, was carrying a sidearm, as is his Constitutional right. A resident with what appears to be little understanding of the rights to carry a sidearm, decided to call the police and report the innocent open-carrier. Officers were dispatched to the scene. See the story here:

Again, an officer was in the wrong, and reacted incorrectly once confronted by a citizen who was in the right. Here’s what should have transpired but didn’t.

  • An officer should have never been dispatched. The person who called the police should have been advised by the dispatcher that carrying a weapon is a legal act and that they cannot dispatch an officer unless it appears there is an illegal act happening.
  • The officer merely did his duty in responding, but he was incorrect in his interpretation of the law. I can forgive an officer for not being in command of the laws like a lawyer—a law degree takes a lot longer to attain than your typical police academy certification. But if someone is telling you the law, and they seem to know what they’re talking about, especially when you don’t, then stop acting like you do. The law student was right, which means the officer was either purposefully being incorrect, or just wasn’t certain and thought he knew the law. Either way, arguing with someone when you don’t know you’re right is pure arrogance. What would have been so hard about saying, “You may be correct, let me check with my superior” or “You’re right sir, my mistake” once corrected by the law student.

There are a litany of videos of police officers abusing their power, these are merely two. The military and police are somewhat similar, yet where the military is revered for its respect and honor, the police are too often not. The one glaring difference between the two is labor unions—soldiers aren’t unionized. When union entitlement mentalities take over a workforce, the workers rarely fear for losing their job. Someone with little fear of getting fired, isn’t so compelled to do the right thing—in government, this is a recipe for abuse.

When legislators, police, and other government employees violate the law, the penalties imposed are usually far less severe than what John Q Public might endure if he committed the same offense. This is fundamentally wrong in a country where “We the people” give power to the government.

Instead, government officials should be penalized more severely. I didn’t take an oath to defend the Constitution, but they did—they know better. If we can’t trust them, who can we trust? And if we can’t trust them, “We the people” who actually have the power according to our Constitution, might as well get rid of them. Would you hire an employee if you thought they would steal from you?

Barney Fife and Andy Griffith from The Andy Griffith Show
Barney Fife and Andy Griffith from The Andy Griffith Show

We voters must vote to rid our government of organized labor so that we can better hold the rule-breakers accountable. But police must start to care about the honor of their profession and police themselves as stringently is they police us. Doing so will yield top quality public servants. Until then, we get the Barney Fifes and/or Joseph Miedzianowskis instead of the Andy Griffiths and Elliot Nesses. We deserve better.

Would you mind electrocuting this person real quick? Why People Support Overtaxation.

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

In July of 1961, Yale University psychiatrist Stanley Milgram began an experiment that ended with shocking results—literally! It is now simply known as the Milgram Experiment—his most famous work.

Stanley Milgram
Stanley Milgram

Milgram was troubled with the excuses provided by Nazis in the wake of World War II for the atrocities they had committed. Obviously, they engaged in overly heinous acts toward their fellow man, so horrid in nature it makes one wonder how Hitler got his followers to do them. Yet their responses to the question of why were often the same; they were just following orders.

Milgram was skeptical that people would do something at the direction of an authority figure that they would not in good conscience do on their own. He devised an experiment whereby he would instruct participants to shock other participants they would never meet who were located behind a wall. The shocker was real but was unaware that the shockee was an actor. This actor would fain pain by screaming in agony, and the intent was to see if the shocker would continue to shock the shockee solely because an authority figure told them to, regardless of how dangerous or painful it seemed to be for the person on the other side.

The video below shows what happened. If you’ve never heard of this experiment before, check it out. It is certainly a fascinating study into the human psyche with very surprising results. His experiment showed people were willing to do horrific things to one another if an authority figure told them it was OK to do so, confirming the idea that many Nazis were indeed telling the truth about their motives.

As I think about this experiment, I can’t help but draw what I believe is a very exact parallel to modern-day tax policies.

There were potentially a number of reasons Obama and many Democrats scored victories in the last election, but there can be no doubt that class envy was one of the common motivating factors. The “tax the rich” mantra was a winning campaign strategy, but let’s think about it deeper.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Imagine I put a random democrat-voter currently receiving or requesting government assistance in front of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett and asked them to perform one simple task: look Bill or Warren in the eye and explain fairly and logically why you think they owe you something. I suspect most of them would be speechless and embarrassed, I know I would. But then again, I have a conscience and I am a libertarian.

Some may be brazen enough to look Gates and Buffett in the eye and argue that they’re simply too rich and have no right to all that money, but most would know there’s no rational argument to present and would simply accept that any effort to make such an argument would show that they were the ones being greedy by demanding what someone else had worked for, Bill and Warren are merely wanting to control what they’ve earned after all.

I specify “control” versus “keep” because they often donate a lot of their earnings to charities. But, when they give their money away, they choose instead of government choosing for them, who gets what they worked so hard for, and risked so much to obtain.

However, if voters can hide behind the wall of government just like Milgram’s participants hid behind a wall, and an authority figure like a politician tells them it’s OK to harm the wealthiest among us, the Milgram Experiment mentality takes over and people who wouldn’t have the gumption to demand the earnings of someone else in person all of a sudden wave the “tax the rich” banner like it’s part of their religion. If Obama says it’s OK, it must be, right?

What’s the solution? I don’t rightly know. But the first step in fixing a problem is understanding it. I don’t know that too many people have applied Milgram’s findings to politics, but there is no doubt in my mind that this an “apples to apples” comparison. The answer to how we get people to begin to grasp the concept that they are cowardly asking government to do something they would likely never have the hubris to ask for themselves is elusive, and likely always will be.

Contrary To Popular Belief, Laws And Police Rarely Prevent Crime

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

What are laws actually for? If you’re thinking to prevent crime, think again. While I don’t support anarchy, if there’s no laws to be broken, there’s no crime, right?

The legislature writes laws to set a standard for law-abiding citizens to know what will and won’t land them in jail. It’s the best way to ensure fairness in prosecution.

Some legislators may believe that would-be murderers would pause and think, “I want to kill this person, but Nancy Pelosi says that’s wrong,” but I think most reasonable people know this is simply not true.

Nancy Pelosi (D - California)
Nancy Pelosi (D – California)

Taking it further and speaking in absolutes; a law cannot stop a crime—criminal acts are physical actions. In order to stop a moving object, you need another physical object to interfere. Isaac’s Laws of Motion, remember? But a law is just words on a page and cannot technically prevent anything. A police officer could, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Let me give an example of why this nuance of defining standards is important and what happens when it’s done wrong.

In 1995, after the repeal of the national 55 mph speed limit, Montana passed a daytime “reasonable and prudent” law. In what could be one of the most glorious acts of libertarianism ever enacted, the state entrusted the people of Montana to determine for themselves a safe speed to travel under the conditions at any given time. To many people’s surprise, studies showed that letting people drive as fast as they wanted actually reduced highway fatalities. They got to where they were going faster too.

Montana Reasonable and Prudent Speed "Limit" Sign
Montana Reasonable and Prudent Speed “Limit” Sign

Then on March 10th, 1996, at a brisk 85 mph, along came Rudy Stanko and his Camaro, when Kenneth Breidenbach, a Montana Highway Patrol officer pulled him over, citing him for unsafe driving in relation to speed. See the legal arguments here.

Stanko was initially convicted, but “Reasonable and prudent” wasn’t properly written, making Stanko the victim of bad law.

Stanko’s attorneys appealed, stating that the “reasonable and prudent” statute was constitutionally vague—they were right. The judge agreed that a person cannot be cited for not driving reasonably and prudently unless the state first defines reasonable and prudent, which it hadn’t. As such, Stanko had no way of knowing if he was doing something that would earn him a ticket, and thus no way to avoid doing it.

Although I hated to see the Montanabahn go, we cannot allow police officers and courts to arbitrarily decide why one person doing 85 is OK, and the other is not. Why? Officer Ken or Justice Joe, for instance, could cite their cheating ex-girlfriends at will for something they let everyone else get away with—I assume you get the point.

As a libertarian (and a Corvette owner), I of course hoped that Montana would have attempted to define reasonable and prudent, which I concede may have been monumentally difficult, but instead, they reverted back to an actual speed limit of 75 mph, and this great bastion of libertarianism died a sad yet preventable death.

So now that I’ve illustrated the purpose of laws and what a good law does, to be fair, I should point out that some laws may serve as a deterrent. However, crimes of a violent nature are also usually crimes of passion, which are usually only preventable with a weapon, not a law.

So do police prevent crime?

Think about all the times you might call the police. More often than not, they are called because either a crime is in progress or has been committed. Also, when police pull someone over, they are doing so because a traffic law has been broken, not because you were about to run a red light—which was clearly still yellow—dammit.

In both instances, the crime is investigated and/or prosecuted, not prevented. It is a very rare occasion you would call the police before a crime is perpetrated and the police would intervene to stop the act before it was able to be carried out. EC689123235C04BEBFE698A4CC_h231_w308_m5_caksoayGp[1]

Again to be fair though, as evidenced by high rates of recidivism, when police arrest someone who committed one crime, they are often preventing the next one on that felon’s “to-do” list.

To all police officers, if you’re one of the many honorable and law-abiding people putting your life at risk for me on a daily basis, I appreciate you immensely—as we all should. So please don’t assume I’m criticizing your sacrifices.

But I believe preventing crime is ultimately a duty of the people. This is one of the many reasons why we have the 2nd amendment and why we all should be more apt to take advantage of it. We should encourage citizen-based crime prevention options, and stand your ground legislation should be nationwide. If a criminal knew most of the neighborhood was armed and would gladly shoot them without repercussion, the innate sense of self-preservation might just override the desire to steal your car stereo—it is not worth dying for.

As far as the police go, I firmly believe that as a nation we should have far less police officers in favor of more police detectives. I don’t blame the officers themselves, they’re just doing a job, but too often the police serve as a means of income for the community via traffic enforcement instead of preventing and solving crime, and this isn’t in the people’s best interests.

So how do we prevent crime then? As you may have imagined, I have some suggestions. Here’s but a few:

  1. Stop writing unneeded laws: I won’t go deep into the drug debate here, but it is a perfect example. Most violent drug-related crimes occur because recreational drugs are illegal. This idea was proven beyond any doubt during alcohol prohibition and its subsequent repeal approximately 80 years ago. Deep within our nature exists a truism: if you encroach on mankind’s freedom, we will lash out—sometimes quite violently. Don’t believe me, tell your kid not to do something, see what happens.YourSpeed
  2. Reign in entitlements: As long as we’re paying welfare mothers to have welfare babies that serve more as a source of income than an outlet for an abundance of motherly love, we’re going to have children who grow up with little to no sense of morality. If I feel I’m entitled to your car, I’ll likely just take it? However, if we force people to sink or swim, we’ll have a lot more people who develop a good work ethic. People who work for things appreciate them and don’t feel compelled to take what others worked for due to another innate quality in most humans—empathy.
  3. Improve education: Get rid of teacher’s unions, public schools, etc., and have proper free market education. If free markets can make a better car, and I think Russia vs. America proved this, then it can build a better school too. Studies have shown private schools routinely outperform their public counterparts. One look at any prison shows that most of the people in there can’t even spell incarceration. Sure there are genius criminal minds, but contrary to Hollywood hype, they’re not as common as you would think. A smarter society is usually a more peaceful one, whereas most criminals are idiots.
  4. Improve the economy: Some criminals are psychopaths, but some criminals are just desperate. Psychopaths will commit crimes as long as they are free, but with a strong economy, you at least reduce the crimes of desperation.

Ultimately we need to adopt a “No victim, no crime” policy then restore our country’s greatness such that people don’t feel the need to do bad things to survive. but the answer is almost never more laws and more police.