- The entirety of the Constitutionally mandated Judicial Branch can fit on a single piece of paper.
- Half of the Bill of Rights was attempting to resolve issues related to the Courts.
- Everything we believe as requirements for justice in America have been totally made up, are unsupported, and are based on nothing.
Go ahead and read the Article 3 of the Constitution that establishes the Judicial Branch of the United States. Yes, please, just go right now, I’ll wait…
Oh, you are back so soon? As you have noticed, there is not much to it! All of Article 3 can fit on a single page of paper yet contains the balancing control for a full third of the entire Federal Government. And just what is in this single page?
- Section 1 establishes that there is a Supreme Court of the land that has “the Judicial Power of the United States”. Furthermore, Congress can establish “inferior” courts and that Judges should not only be paid, but their pay cannot be diminished.
- Section 2 establishes which groups may sue each other (hint: everyone/thing can sue everyone/thing else); that the Supreme Court is the ultimate appellate court but it is the original jurisdiction for cases involving ambassadors, government representatives, or when a whole State is a party; and that criminal cases shall be by jury (though not any details of what a jury looks like) in the State where the alleged crime happened.
- Section 3 is about what is, how to try, and how to punish treason.
One can immediately see that there was some great concern about this light section that led to the Bill of Rights trying to create some boundaries within the judicial and law enforcement system:
- Amendment 4 protected people from unreasonable search and seizure.
- Amendment 5 laid out rules for how a person is to be charged through a Grand Jury, made it so a person cannot be charged for the same crime twice, prevented making a person testify against themselves, and protected a person and their property without due process and compensation.
- Amendment 6 expanded Article 3, Section 2, Clause 3 with much of the same language but added additional ideas for a “speedy and public trial” and established various rights enjoined by the accused.
- Amendment 7 said that if you sue someone for $20 or more, you have a right to a jury trial, too, if you want one.
- Amendment 8 stopped excessive bail (and if $20 was enough to get you a jury, what do you suppose “excessive” means?).
Returning to the very beginning of this entire document, the Constitution was and still is incredibly flawed. But the flaws that were most prevalent made up 50% of the first batch of Amendments. Yet, that was still not enough as the very next Amendment passed by Congress in 1794 and ratified in 1795 made it so if someone wanted to sue a State they had to do it in the State’s court, not in the Federal courts. It was a direct reaction to a rather minor court case where the executor of an estate (Alexander Chisholm) sued the state of Georgia for payments he felt he was due. Georgia refused to show up for the proceedings, so the Supreme Court ruled 4 to 1 in the plaintiff’s favor. The States were so upset by what they perceived as an intrusion onto their supposed sovereignty that they helped get the 11th Amendment passed, including one of the few times a change to the Constitution had overturned a Supreme Court decision. The good news for Chisholm was that while all of this was going on and a jury was being summoned to determine damages, Georgia agreed to settle (although for pennies on the dollar of what they were being sued for, but it appears the plaintiffs were happy for anything at that point). Unfortunately for the four similarly situated cases coming up behind this one, the 11th Amendment preempted them from getting their day before the Supreme Court.
Although this was the last Amendment to directly address the courts and law, the 14th Amendment re-established due process and equal protection as the follow-up to the 13th Amendment ending of slavery and involuntary servitude. Despite this, we know the court system has far more levels, rules, and regulations than just what is in the Constitution. The districts of Federal Courts, the specialty courts, and appeals system and methodologies — all of this came about over time by the Courts themselves and acts of Congress. Add to that the jury system, how grand juries function, powers the courts have granted themselves, and the general time that a trial takes, and we are in a situation where almost an entire branch of government is built upon a house of cards.
As such, it is time to re-evaluate justice in America. This is not about whether specific laws are just, Constitutional, enforced evenly, or any of the standard arguments we hear about on a daily basis. Instead, this is about having a system that allows these conversations to happen and make a significant impact in how the people within the United States interact with the Judicial Branch. Included in this argument are the following:
- Examining how to make a jury system that is equitable to jurists and those involved in suits, but at the same time is knowledgeable about the law and does not interfere with the daily lives of citizens.
- Creating impartiality in judges despite whichever President and Senate appointed them, making sure judges do not get singularly associated and focused, and finally putting in rules that ensure turnover so that judges are replaced on a regular basis and no person can have massive power over long periods of time.
- Keeping the Executive and Legislative Branches out of the Judicial Branch and making sure the Judicial Branch has a power over them to enforce decisions made. At the same time, the other Branches need power over the Judicial Branch when it oversteps its bounds or when members need to be removed.
- Expanding and clarifying further what due process means and who it applies to.
- Making it so the Courts cannot be used as weapons with just time and money being the factors that determine how a case is going to be end, especially as a way to level the playing field between parties that have massive disparities in both.
With that in mind, you have received a summons in the mail, so it is time to go to court!
TO BE CONTINUED…