The new crop of congresscritters of the 116th Congress will be seated on January 3, 2019. The Democrat Party has regained its majority, and now we can only look on with dread anticipation at their follies. Be forewarned: The whole concept of their being our elected representatives and actually harkening to the will of the electorate is something that seems quite foreign and antique to them. They no longer make even the pretense of genuine representation. They are headed to DC with an agenda. Their stated plan to topple Nancy Pelosi from her Speaker of the House position is indicative of their fervor. This, before they’ve even been through their freshman orientation! Clearly, the statists want to pass a lot of bad laws, and they will do anything and everything in their power to make that happen. If they have to cheat, lie, wheedle, posture, pontificate, cajole, prevaricate, threaten, bribe, or blackmail their peers to make it so, then surely they will. That is how 21st Century Democrats and their RINO Fifth Columnist pals operate.
We must face the sad fact that the U.S.House of Representatives once again has a Democrat majority. In addition to a long parade of contrived congressional investigations of the Trump administration, the Democrats are planning to ramrod numerous pieces of civilian disarmament legislation through committee to the House floor. They’ll start by reviving moribund pieces of legislation that had previously died in committee. Even Dianne Feinstein’s proposed “Assault Weapons” ban will probably come up for a floor vote. (Believe me: The only “assault” going on will be a an assault on our individual liberty!)
A word of warning: If they cannot pass these laws individually, then they will bundle them up into omnibus legislation packages, hoping to get them enacted by default or by inattention. Under the guise of “common sense gun control laws”, they will attempt to remove an entire class of firearms from production or importation for civilian ownership. I also expect them to bundle a national “Red Flag” gun seizure (aka Extreme Risk Protection Order) bill into an omnibus “gun control” legislation package.
The horrible Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA-68) is an example of an omnibus legislative package that was steamrollered into law. Its full title was: “The Omnibus Crime Control And Safe Streets Act Of 1968.” It is codified in Title 42 of the U.S. Code. Among many other things, GCA-68 made it illegal for private parties to sell or transfer guns across state lines. It may sound absurd, but if I were to give one of my out-of-state my nieces or nephews a gun as a gift, it would be a felony if I were to do so without handling the transfer through a Federally-licensed dealer. Bad laws like these must have our Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves!
Lex Mala, Lex Nulla
There is an old legal maxim that is often quoted: “Lex mala, lex nulla.” This Latin phrase means “bad law is no law.” More precisely, we should quote Saint Augustine, who famously wrote: “Lex iniusta non est lex.” Which is most commonly rendered in English: “An unjust law is no law at all.”
Sometimes it is important to take a step back and look at a micro situation (like any particular legislative bill) from a macro perspective. I’ve quoted the following gem from American Jurisprudence before, but it is important to repeat it here:
“The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, whether federal or state, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law but is wholly void and ineffective for any purpose. Since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it, an unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed and never existed; that is, it is void ab initio. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.
Since an unconstitutional law is void, it follows that generally the statute imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office or liabilities, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, is incapable of creating any rights or obligations, does not allow for the granting of any relief, and justifies no acts performed under it.
Once a statute is determined to be unconstitutional, no private citizen or division of the state may take any further action pursuant to its provisions. A contract that rests on an unconstitutional statute creates no obligation to be impaired by subsequent legislation. No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law, and no courts are bound to enforce it. A law contrary to the United States Constitution may not be enforced. Once a statute has been declared unconstitutional, courts thereafter have no jurisdiction over alleged violations. Persons convicted and fined under a statute subsequently held unconstitutional may recover the fines paid.” [JWR’s Emphasis Added.]
To maintain a free society, bad laws must be annulled, overturned, or otherwise stopped.
Rosa Parks Moments
We of course have to pick our fights wisely and not foolishly tilt at windmills. But when a fundamental right is violated by a bad law–or under color of law–then someone needs to make a firm stand. On a personal level, this can be costly. Most people cannot afford to pay for extended legal battles. Most of us who have charge of families cannot afford to lose our jobs and face incarceration. So count the costs before you make any fateful stand. But if you do, you can take heart in the knowledge that we now live in the Internet Age. Your struggle will not go unnoticed. They can’t stop the signal. Being the guinea pig in a test case is never comfortable. However, in the face of a genuinely bad law, someone needs to volunteer. Every freedom-loving nation needs exemplars like Rosa Parks to make a stand for liberty. The true Rosa Parks Moments for our nation have been few and far between. These are dramatic turning points in our nation’s history, often initiated by just one stalwart citizen making a stand.
Alcohol Prohibition ended 85 years ago, primarily because of massive non-compliance. The Federal ban on marijuana is presently being rendered ineffective by decades of massive non-compliance followed by state legalization. In 10 States and even in Washington, DC, marijuana has been legalized for recreational use for those 21 and older. And now medical marijuana has been legalized in 33 states. Regardless of your opinion of The Wacky Tobaccy, we must recognize that this is a prime example of a societal sea change, through Constitutional processes.
In sum, the Lex Malum can be eliminated several ways:
- Polite pressure on legislators with calls, letters, and speaking up at Town Hall meetings.
- Individuals simply flouting laws (non-compliance).
- Non-enforcement by conscientious officials.
- Jury nullification.
- Launching test cases. (Read: “Get yourself arrested and probably face prison.”)
- Filing Title 18:241, 18:242, 18:245, 18:247, and 18:14141 lawsuits.
- Public rallies and protests.
- Civil disobedience. (Read: “Get yourself arrested — on a misdemeanor.”)
- And as an absolute worst case, recourse to the force of arms.
The last on that list, at its core, is what the 2nd Amendment guarantees.
Of those methods I listed, test cases are the most time consuming and frustrating. Some cases take decades to work their way up the chain in the appeals process. Frustratingly, the Supreme Court can decline to hear cases, for a variety of reasons.
A Law-Abiding Nation
With few equals, the United States is a nation of law-abiding citizens. For generations, Americans have been raised to respect the law. In recent years, this innate respect has gradually transitioned to fear. William Shakespeare once famously wrote: “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all…” But in our modern age, I submit that it is the law that makes cowards of us all. I urge my readers to be brave in the face of unconstitutional laws. Make a stand for what is right. Again, it may come at a great cost and personal sacrifice. But always remember that we are Americans, and in the end we collectively can be trusted to do what is righteous. Also remember that We The People are the sovereigns. If we recognize God’s authority, we are still the final arbiters of our national destiny.
I’ll close with a quote from Congressman Larry McDonald: “There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: the soap box, the ballot box, the the jury box, and the ammo box. Please use in that order.” If you think that Rosa Parks Moments are full of drama, then wait until you witness a Battle of Athens, Tennessee Moment.
Lord help our nation if we ever have to resort to opening that final box. – JWR
Note: Permission is granted for re-posting of this entire article, but only if done so in full, with proper attribution to James Wesley, Rawles and SurvivalBlog.com, and only if the included links are preserved.)