I keep hearing the same argument over and over again. It starts with, “You are not a lawyer, so…”. I hear this with regard to everything from Constitutional Law, to questions about criminality in specific court cases.
Whenever I hear this argument, which is akin to, “let the experts speak,” I am reminded that lawyers are not taught ‘justice’, but ‘jurisprudence’ which means, “The theory of law.” In other words, a lawyer’s job is not to apply justice, but to apply the law, and they are taught to do that irrespective of whether or not the law is just.
I am also reminded that we have an adversarial system of justice, such that whatever one ‘expert’ might argue in court, there is always another ‘expert’ who disagrees. Lawyers are not really trained to apply the law, but to be able to argue both sides of the law, equally well, such that the interests of their clients are upheld to the maximum degree possible. As a consequence, when a lawyer uses, “You are not a lawyer, so…” as the basis of an argument, understand that the lawyer you are talking to is using their law degree to forward a personal opinion that they could just as easily argue against – making the whole “You are not a lawyer, so…” argument dishonest. The “You are not a lawyer, so…” argument is also a logical fallacy known at ‘appeal to authority’.
I am also reminded that Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the Printing Press, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for printing an English translation of the Bible, on the grounds that letting the commoner read the Bible gave the commoner a direct line to God, which the Catholic Church felt removed the need for a priest. The notion that only a lawyer can read and/or understand the law is no different than the notion that Gutenberg should have been excommunicated for printing the Bible in English.
The notion that only lawyers are qualified to discuss the law is particularly onerous with regard to the Constitution, which was intentionally written in plain English such that the common person would find it easy to understand. If you read the Constitution, you will note that the Constitution does not give the Supreme Court the right to interpret the Constitution. The founders did not think that it would be necessary to interpret the Constitution, as they felt that its meaning was clear.
The Constitution was not written for lawyers to interpret. It was written for we, the people, to interpret. It was, however, taken over by lawyers, starting in 1803.
The Supreme Court took over the country, illegally, in three stages. The first was when it assumed the power to interpret the Constitution, in 1803 when Marbury vs Madison first used the phrase ‘judicial review’. Under this court case, the Supreme Court, for the first time, asserted it’s power to interpret the Constitution.
The second stage occurred in 1954, under Brown vs the Board of Education. This was an interesting case, as it was the second time the country dealt with horrendous Supreme Court decisions.
The first time the nation dealt with a horrendous Supreme Court decision was in 1833, when the court decided that the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states. This was not corrected by a better Supreme Court decision, as at the time all Supreme Court decisions were considered final. As a consequence, the legislature corrected the court with the 14th Amendment.
In 1896, the Supreme Court decided in Plessy vs, Ferguson, that school segregation was legal, in a rule that became known as ‘separate but equal.’ This was a horrendous decision that should have been reversed by the legislature, but was not. As a consequence, in 1954, the Supreme Court decided in Brown vs. the Board of Education, that Plessy vs Ferguson was wrong, and reversed the court’s interpretation.
Brown vs. the Board of Education represented stage two of the Supreme Court’s taking over of the country, as the Supreme Court suddenly had the power not only to interpret the Constitution, but to also change its mind.
Power corrupts, and over time Supreme Court Justices began to argue that the power to interpret the Constitution, and then for the court to later change its interpretation, could be used to make the Constitution a ‘living document,’ such that the Constitution (and all other laws) could be ‘interpreted’ to say whatever the courts determine the country needs them to say, at any given moment in time. The ‘living document’ doctrine is stage three of the Supreme Court takeover, as now the law is whatever the courts say it is, with the Supreme Court as the ultimate authority. More importantly, Supreme Court decisions only tell us what the Constitution (and other laws) say at a given point in time. The next day, the courts are free to seek a different interpretation, as any change in the Supreme Court may also signify a change in the ‘living document.’
If you push the ‘living document’ doctrine enough, as Barrack Obama started to do, then you get to stage four, which historians late in Obama’s second term began to call the ‘post-Constitutional era,’ and other than four years of Trump, we may well find that we are indeed in a post-Constitutional era, where the executive branch has whatever powers the Supreme Court allows, with no regard for the Constitution, and in which the legislature exists not to pass laws, but to investigate and harass the executive branch.
Based on the past two years, our Democrat-controlled House seems to have embraced this new role, none of which resembles justice in any way, shape, or form. Note that every executive action Trump takes is challenged in the most liberal federal courts in the country, with lower-level courts striking down Trump’s executive actions, forcing everything to go to the Supreme Court. Note too that even when the Supreme Court calls something legal, there is nothing stopping newer cases in lower courts from striking down executive actions until the Supreme Court rules those actions legal again, based on the possibility that the ‘living document’ may have changed.
Under the ‘living document’ doctrine, there is no law. We are left with only court decisions. This doctrine eliminates the Constitution, and replaces it with common law, giving all legislative power to the courts, and destroying the separation of powers upon which this nation stands.
In a just society, the laws that govern us must be written such that we, the people, can understand them. If we cannot understand the law, then how are we to obey?
If revolution ever again comes to this land, it will not be because Donald Trump is President, nor because Michigan’s governor assumed illegal control over Michigan’s people. It will, rather, be because the stack of rules that govern the country is so complicated that our Congress cannot even tell us how many pages long the rules are. Believe it or not, but the number of rules that govern us is a matter of legislative debate. Nobody knows for sure…
The federal income tax law is 74,608 pages long. As a consequence, every tax filing is both legal, and illegal, depending on how that law is applied. Each and every one of us can be fined by the IRS every year for whatever amount the IRA wishes to take, and nobody can tell us with any certainty whether the IRS is right or wrong. Our tax code has become so complicated that what it says has become a matter for the courts to decide. Nobody really knows what the tax law says.
When laws get to the point where it really does take lawyers to determine what the laws say, those laws are no longer just, and as such, our tax code is unjust.
The Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’) clocked in at over 7200 pages. Nancy Pelosi famously said that we have to pass Obamacare to find out what is in it. People laughed as if what she said was absurd, but what she meant was that the legislature had no way of discerning the nuts and bolts of what they were passing. Only once it became law, and the lawyers began to haggle over it, could we find out what it said.
Obamacare was unjust.
The average length of a bill that passes Congress today is over 10,000 pages. Nobody knows what any of those laws mean. Virtually ever law Congress passes is unjust.
And every law is subject to ‘living document’ interpretations by the courts, meaning that the wording of laws written by Congress is not even relevant, unless the courts like what the laws say.
If there is ever a revolution, it will be because the lawyers have made our country unjust.
So if you are a lawyer, and you have the nerve to tell me that only lawyers are qualified to discuss matters of law, my response is that no lawyer is qualified to discuss justice. Please shut your mouth before I put my fist in it.
Joe Biden, incidentally, is a lawyer. Before Joe Biden got into politics, he practiced law…