* * * The Opposition Makes The Case For Amendment E * * *
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Los Angeles, California March 14, 2006
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www.SouthDakotaJudicialAccountability.comThe Opposition Makes TheCase For Amendment EThere is no stronger argument that can be made for one's position than the words of one's opposition, i.e., by listening to the opposition, comparing it with known truth, one can quickly discern where to hang their hat.Yesterday, for the first time, we heard the replay of radio talk show host David Champion, who stated quite humorously that the establishment in South Dakota is so frightened over Amendment E that they are soiling their pants. First let's read the outrageous charges made against the judicial accountability advocated in South Dakota by Amendment E.Rushmore to Judgment
South Dakota ups the ante in the national war over judges.
By Bert Brandenburg
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
America's judges would like to write off last year's anti-court orgy as a political spasm. Tom ("Judges need to be intimidated") DeLay is on the back bench, the testy Supreme Court confirmation hearings are over, and the judge in Terri Schiavo's case no longer needs a deputy to escort him every time he walks his dog.
But better times aren't coming back soon. The newest front in the war on the courts is being fought in South Dakota, where, in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore, a group called "J.A.I.L. 4 Judges" is promoting one of the most radical threats to justice this side of the Spanish Inquisition. It's extreme and it's incoherent, but it's got more than 40,000 petition signatures? and it will go to the state's voters as a constitutional amendment in November. A national network of supporters is waiting in the wings, threatening to export the revolution to other states if they do well this fall.
The group's proposed measure would wipe out a basic doctrine called judicial immunity that dates back to the 13th century, protecting judges from personal liability for doing their job ruling on the cases before them. A special grand jury? essentially a fourth branch of government?would be created to indict judges for a string of bizarre offenses that include "deliberate disregard of material facts," "judicial acts without jurisdiction," and "blocking of a lawful conclusion of a case," along with judicial failure to impanel a jury for infractions as minor as a dog-license violation. After three such "convictions," the judge would be fired and docked half of his or her retirement benefits for good measure.
J.A.I.L. 4 Judges is an Internet-era creation, pulling together a disparate national network of tax protesters, conspiracy theorists, jury-nullification supporters, and assorted others with grievances against the courts and modern government. Its Web site claims to have 50 state chapters, whose leaders sport the rank of "Major General" or "JAILer-In-Chief." The Alaska JAILer in chief has been known to parade around dressed in black robes, with a noose around his neck and scaffolding above his head, before shedding the robes and burning them. J.A.I.L.'s supporters have picketed the homes of offending judges and generated e-mail campaigns?sometimes laced with electronic viruses and worms?against the Anti-Defamation League, reporters, and legislators over statements that upset them. Supporters and like-minded groups have filed hundreds of Freedom of Information requests seeking information about judges' personal lives and property, along with challenges claiming that judicial oaths are invalid or not properly filed.
This movement is the brainchild of a Californian named Ronald Branson with a history of suing state and federal officials for alleged conspiracies (including his own trials for burglary and a traffic offense). After being rebuffed by the courts?including the U.S. Supreme Court on 14 separate occasions, even to appeal a parking ticket?and attorneys general and legislatures in Sacramento, Calif., and Washington, Branson failed three times to get enough signatures to put the measure on the California ballot.
J.A.I.L.'s supporters have a broad list of grievances. Branson (the "Five-Star National J.A.I.L. Commander-In-Chief") has written that judges have a duty to stop a New World Order conspiracy involving bankers, the United Nations, and the Federal Reserve. He calls government-issued marriage licenses "blasphemy," adding that, "I believe I have been called of God to lead in the cause of judicial accountability." Traffic tickets loom large on his political agenda: Branson hopes that J.A.I.L. supporters will drive through South Dakota "just for the privilege of getting a traffic ticket so you can demand a jury trial."
How did this Internet-age fun house turn into South Dakota's headache? In part because it took fewer than 34,000 signatures to get on that state's ballot, and initiative states are the logical playgrounds for fringe groups. But J.A.I.L.'s organizers don't even pretend to have grievances with South Dakota judges. Instead, they paid door-knockers to ask people if they were mad about Roe v. Wade or last year's Kelo decision upholding local eminent-domain powers?or if they just wanted to hold judges accountable. (Never mind that state judges can't overturn Roe, or that in Kelo the Supreme Court deferred to legislators to set their own land-use policies.)
In other words, J.A.I.L. 4 Judges seeks to capitalize on the incessant talk-radio hate-in against the courts, where America's 11,000 judges are caricatured as godless, flag-burning, property-seizing, gay-marriage missionaries. J.A.I.L. is just the latest in a parade of groups twisting the notion of judicial accountability beyond recognition. J.A.I.L. may be rough around the edges, but they're taking their cues from a finely polished political script. Indeed, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has started taking on these judge-bashers for trying to intimidate courts into answering to special interests instead of the Constitution.
Like any insurgency, J.A.I.L. works hard to get attention. As their founder writes: "We at J.A.I.L. get unlimited kicks at the judges' crotches and shins, and the judges must keep a straight face and pretend we don't exist. ? If they assault us, they advertise for us and promote J.A.I.L." Their own goal is nothing less than to establish crotch-kicking grand juries in all 50 states, with Branson as czar, since he claims "final authority by operation of law as to what these words mean and that all courts throughout the future must look to the author's definition"?an intriguing theory for a movement vowing to restore power to the people.
In South Dakota, a "Good War" coalition of political parties, business leaders and the civic sector is coming together to deal with J.A.I.L. (Since J.A.I.L. 4 Judges has it out for the Uniform Commercial Code, business executives ought to be especially worried.) The state legislature unanimously passed a resolution noting that judges are already adequately disciplined for misconduct, taunting J.A.I.L. for hiring an out-of-state firm to gather signatures and warning South Dakotans that the measure would cost taxpayers millions and lead to an epidemic of frivolous actions, including suits by convicted felons against the judges and prosecutors who put them behind bars. J.A.I.L. 4 Judges responded by sending each lawmaker a 14-page letter calling the resolution unlawful and demanding a retraction. It's now threatened to sue and arrest all 105 members.
J.A.I.L. is also busy selecting its next target. "We have an interest in taking this to Nevada, where we have no doubts a failure to hold judges accountable is crippling the legal system," a J.A.I.L. supporter recently told the Las Vegas Sun. They may find pockets of fertile ground: In 1994, a Nevada rancher broke into a national forest with a bulldozer, briefly sparking a "county supremacy" rebellion, insisting that federal ownership of land was illegal.
Indeed, JAILers are brimming with confidence that they'll win in South Dakota this fall, and around the country beyond. Writes Branson: "The People are slowly waking up to realize who the Enemy is? and it isn't Bin Laden."Bert Brandenburg is the executive director of the Justice at Stake Campaign, a nonpartisan national organization of more than 40 partners. The positions and policies of all campaign partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of other partners.
Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2138057/Bert Brandenburg may be reached at info@...Aside from the false, deceptive and inflammatory words never spoken designed to deceive their readership, let's take a look at the bold statements made by Bert Brandenburg that defy the Constitution and American history.Brandenburg says, "The group's proposed measure would wipe out a basic doctrine called judicial immunity that dates back to the 13th century, protecting judges from personal liability for doing their job..." When one considers that America was discovered in 1492, one may wonder to what time frame of history he is referring to in contending that judges at that time asserted the protections of judicial immunity. Perhaps he is speaking of the Indians smoking the peace pipe and trading tomahawks for firewater. But this time element to which he is speaking is prior to the spoken words, "White man speak with forked tongue."But if it is England to which he speaks, he still has his facts wrong. Accountability of England's judges was the rule, and immunity was the exception. And even at that, those rare exceptions only applied to the judges in the king's court, and not the common courts.But even this point is moot, as Bert Brandenburg overlooks the fact that we had an American revolution declaring ourselves independent of the King of England. Consistent with his view overlooking the America revolution, he faults Amendment E holding accountable "judicial failure to impanel a jury for infractions as minor as a dog-license violation."We wonder how long it has been since Brandenburg read the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The DOI draws attention to the deprivations of King George, III in the words, "He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance." Now these words do not sound too flattering. "Swarms of officers?" What means these words? "eat out their substance?" We wonder if our Founding Fathers were talking about "infractions as minor as a dog-license violation."When Brandenburg says Amendment E will, "impanel a jury for infractions," we wonder if this is what our Founding Fathers were referring to when they complained that King George, III was "depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury?" Perhaps if we look at the U.S. Constitution on this issue it will shed some light upon the subject as to the concerns our Founding Fathers, to wit, "The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury;" Article III, Sec. 2, Clause 3.Mr. Brandenburg, what does "all crimes" mean? What does, "except in cases of impeachment" mean? What does "shall" mean? What does "jury" mean? What's more, Mr. Brandenburg, where in the Constitution does it state or define the word "infraction." We have "misdemeanors" and "felonies," with treason and capital crimes both being a felony. But there is no mention of infractions. Infractions are a modern made-up invention designed to deprive the accused of probable cause, assistance of counsel, and a trial by jury. But is this not what our Founding Fathers sought to prevent by the authorities cited above?Mr. Brandenburg, I know you have heard the statement, "America, love it or leave it." We have shown by the your out of you own mouth that you do not hold respect for our established American form of government. Would we be accurate to say that you really wish that jury trials were abolished altogether?Mr. Brandenburg, we have two simple questions for you: Where, what spot in the Constitution do you relay upon to support your defense of the doctrine of judicial immunity? Article? Section? Clause?Second question -- does not judges granting to themselves judicial immunity violate the doctrine of separation of powers, and would it not destroy the concept of checks and balances between the branches of government, making the judiciary lords over, above, and beyond the People?Lastly, your footnote says, "Bert Brandenburg is the executive director of the Justice at Stake Campaign" With a shameful track record you hold against the Constitution, it gives us cause to wonder what you mean by "Justice" as used in the context of "Justice at Stake." Are you not a subtle deceiver and a liar? Can justice exist through assaulting our Constitution? We trust you need not review some of the historical quotes we could give you from Thomas Jefferson, and some of our other Founding Fathers.
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