JUDGES WHO BREAK THE LAW - JUDGES WHO STEAL
By Bill Sizemore
October 4, 2003
Citizens across the country are being mugged and robbed by the activist judges, who sit on their state supreme courts. The extent of the theft being perpetrated is staggering; often undermining even the most fundamental right of American citizens to be self-governing.
Let me say right up front, that it is generally unwise to speak evil of dignitaries. By virtue of the offices they hold, judges ought to be afforded honor and respect. Bear in mind, however, that ours is a nation wherein we are ruled, not by men, but by laws. The judges discussed in this column are lawbreakers. They are men and women who have knowingly abused their official positions to corrupt the law and further their own personal political agendas. That being said, here goes.
With alarming regularity and for purely political reasons, liberal activist judges in state courts around the country are invalidating important, often historic, voter-approved ballot measures. These judges are using their official authority to nullify voter-approved laws, simply because they, the judges themselves, personally don’t agree with the laws the voters have approved.
The point of this column is to show you that in many cases, these judges are acting in clear violation of the law, doing things that under their own state’s laws they are expressly prohibited from doing.
As we look at just a couple of states and only a few of the many examples that could be offered, the extent of the loss the people are suffering at the hands of activist, lawbreaking judges will become obvious.
In 2000, a solid majority of voters in Oregon approved Measure Seven, a historic, landmark property rights measure that required governments to pay “just compensation” to property owners, when the value of their property was reduced by a government imposed land use regulation. Considering the wholesale deterioration of property rights that has occurred under Oregon’s egregious land use laws, this constitutional amendment marked a turning point in Oregon history.
However, after all the petition signatures had been collected and counted; after the proponents and opponents had spent millions of dollars educating the voters about the measure; and after a million plus votes had been cast and counted, the Oregon Supreme Court, with no basis in law, simply threw the measure out.
Why? They invalidated the measure simply because the seven justices of the Oregon Supreme Court personally didn’t like the measure. I have yet to talk to a single person in the legal profession, regardless of his or her view of the measure itself, who doesn’t view the court’s decision to nullify Measure Seven to be a legally groundless, purely political decision.
They can’t do that, you say. There must be some legal basis for their decision. They can’t just make this stuff up, can they? Well, judge for yourself. In a moment, when you read the Oregon Supreme Court’s basis for its decision, you will see that the court is clearly violating the law, knows it, and simply doesn’t care.
Bear in mind, the now infamous Measure Seven decision was not the first time an important, voter-approved measure was hijacked in broad daylight by the gang of black-robed bandits, who sit on the Oregon Supreme Court or the Supreme Court of other states.
In 2002, nearly 10 years after it passed, the Oregon Supreme Court also invalidated a term limits measure that had been approved by an overwhelming 70 percent of Oregon voters. That measure, for better or for worse, was causing a voter mandated, complete turnover in the members comprising the Oregon State Legislature, and in the view of Term Limits supporters, removing the well-entrenched, professional politicians and replacing them with more of a citizen legislature.
As with the property rights measure, after the signatures were collected, the campaigns waged, and the votes cast and counted, the will of nearly a million voters was quietly replaced by the will of seven elitist judges. Amazingly, this judicial heist occurred nearly ten years after the measure had passed. A decade after it passed, the court said it never should have been on the ballot and was therefore invalid!
In Oregon, this scam started back in 1996, when to balance the legal scales that had tilted much too far in favor of the criminals, Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 40, a victims’ rights measure. After the election, the soft-on-crime ACLU types challenged the measure as illegally containing more than one subject.
Proponents thought they had little to worry about. Oregon’s single-subject rule was clearly defined in decades of case law, and the victims’ rights law appeared to be well within its confines.
Little did they know that behind the scenes the Oregon Supreme Court had decided that there was too much self-governing going on in Oregon and that it was time for somebody to rein in the “runaway” initiative process. The justices knew that such a task required at least some basis in law; something to hang their hat on. Finding none, they did what activist judges do. They made one up.
The justices of the Oregon Supreme Court took a provision of the state constitution that doesn’t apply to initiatives, a provision that expressly says it doesn’t apply to initiatives, and applied it to initiatives anyway. The judges then began using this judicially created law to throw out every important voter-approved measure that the judges themselves personally didn’t like.
Understand that the judges were not making an honest mistake, or simply interpreting words differently than other judges had in the past. No, they were and are violating the law, and they know it. They know what the law says. They know what it means. They just don’t care.
As stated earlier, this epidemic of judicial arrogance and usurpation of power is not confined to Oregon or even to the state courts. Judges across the nation have discovered that there are almost no limits to their power, provided that they are willing to ignore the clear meaning of the law and the legislative history of the laws and provided that the legislative bodies and the newspaper editors will not challenge them.
After all, judges are the ones who interpret the law. When challengers try to use the law to confront them, the courts simply say that the laws cited don’t mean what challengers say they mean.
In other words, the laws means what the judges say they mean, not what the legislators, who wrote and passed the laws, meant them to say.
Because I am making some grave accusations in this column, calling supreme court justices thieves and lawbreakers, let’s establish clearly that justices in Oregon are indeed violating the law when they throw out voter-approved measures based on the so called “single amendment rule.” Let’s look at the actual law the Oregon Supreme Court has used to throw out about half-a-dozen voter approved measures over the past five or six years and see what it actually says.
Way back in 1906, by initiative petition the People of the State of Oregon adopted a Constitutional Amendment establishing the procedure by which the state legislature may propose amendments to the Oregon Constitution, and then submit those amendments to the voters of the state for their approval or rejection.
That 1906 amendment, Section 1 of Article XVII of the Oregon Constitution, is worded today precisely as it was when it was first adopted by Oregon voters, nearly one hundred years ago. It is of no small significance that until six years ago, not once, in the more than 90 years that this constitutional provision has existed, did a court use or attempt to use it as a basis for invalidating a voter approved initiative. The provision was only applied to legislatively proposed amendments, not amendments initiated by the people themselves.
When you read the last sentence of this section, you will understand why for 90 years the courts never applied the section to constitutional amendments proposed by the people, and why no honest judge would have even considered doing so.
Here is the last sentence of Article XVII, Section 1, the so called single-amendment provision that the Oregon Supreme Court has used to throw out half-a-dozen voter-approved laws: “This article shall not be construed to impair the right of the people to amend this Constitution by vote upon an initiative petition therefore.”
There it is, plain as day. This provision, which merely describes the procedure by which the legislative assembly may propose constitutional amendments for the people’s approval or rejection at the ballot box, concludes with a clear instruction to the courts that the provision is not to be used to impair the people’s right to amend the constitution.
It would not have been clearer, had the drafters said: This section proscribes how the legislature may propose constitutional amendments. Judges, don’t use it to make it difficult for the people to amend this Constitution by initiative.
Remember, this section was written by those who were actively using the initiative process at the time. They were restricting the state legislature, not themselves.
How does the court deal with those final words of the so-called single amendment rule? It simply ignores them. Like the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the words have no meaning at all to liberal judges.
Truth is, there is no such thing as a “single amendment requirement” for initiatives anywhere in the Oregon Constitution. Neither the state legislature nor the people themselves have passed a measure or bill to create such a requirement. The court just made one up to use as a tool to rein in the out-of-control “ignorant masses."
They fabricated a new rule and then used it to throw out the victims rights measure, saying that the measure contained more than one amendment to the constitution.
Next they threw out a campaign finance reform measure. Then they threw out the decade-old term limits measure, and then two measures that protected private property from government takings.
One minute those laws were there, approved by a majority of voters. The next minute, poof, one by one, they were gone! The hundreds of thousands of signatures collected; the millions of dollars spent educating the voters; and the millions of votes cast, became all for naught. At the whim of seven dishonest judges, the six voter-approved measures just disappeared, as if they had never existed.
In all my years in politics, I have never seen anything approaching this level of corruption. The theft perpetrated by the Oregon Supreme Court is greater than anything ever perpetrated by organized crime. It is racketeering on a grand scale.
The damage is truly immeasurable. Not only has the law been shanghaied; not only have property rights and other basic civil rights stolen from citizens; not only has the will of the people overturned, but hundreds of thousands of voters have come to believe, quite logically, that their votes really don’t matter. Many have stopped voting and signing petitions altogether.
It is hard to argue with the logic of the voters who are tuning out. They are partly right. Their votes really did mean nothing. In the final analysis, the only votes that really counted were those of the seven black-robed thieves sitting on the Oregon Supreme Court.
As a side note, it is almost certain that the editorial boards of the 22 daily newspapers across the state know the judges on the Oregon Supreme Court were cheating, when they threw out all of these measures. They know something is amiss, but they keep silent, because as fellow liberals, they personally are glad to see the measures gone, even if the court had to cheat to get rid of them. For them, the end justifies the means.
Long gone are the days when journalists were fair and impartial watchdogs over government. By their silence, they have become complicit in the court's crimes. Here's just one piece of evidence that the editors are not ignorant of the courts malfeasance:
When the challenge to the decade old Term Limits law was first filed with the court, The Oregonian newspaper published an editorial stating that even though the board didn’t like Term Limits, this lawsuit was no way to get rid of it. The editorial asked the obvious question: If a measure that does nothing but limit the terms of elected officials is not one amendment to the Constitution, then what is?
That’s what the editorial board said when the Term Limits case was first filed, before it was decided.
However, after the case ultimately was decided and the Oregon Supreme Court threw out the Term Limits measure, The Oregonian editorial board was completely silent. Not a single word was written criticizing or questioning the decision. Never mind that the court’s reasoning was absurd or that it’s decision was entirely without legal authority. The Oregonian editorial board apparently liked the outcome, and therefore, justified, as liberals so often do, the means.
Sure, the court broke the law. Sure, the court exceeded its authority. But because the editors agreed with the end, they ignored the means. In a very real sense, the horrific collapse of judicial ethics and wholesale theft of the rights of the people has been made possible by a reprehensible collapse of journalistic ethics with the daily newspapers of the state.
How long do you think those Supreme Court justices would have continued down this road, if the newspapers of the state had told the voters of the state that their elected judges were exceeding their authority, nullifying voter-approved laws using fabricated rules? Not long. For one thing, had the editors made the issue a topic of public debate, not one of those judges would have run unopposed in the next election.
Unfortunately, the problem of judicial theft is not confined to Oregon. Florida’s supreme court is as bad or worse. Most conservative measures are never even allowed on the ballot in Florida, because they fail to win the court’s approval for circulation. Like Oregon Supreme Court, the Florida Supreme Court simply ignores the law that says that the court can’t do what the justices want to do.
If you think the Oregon Supreme Court is drunk with power, the Florida Supreme Court, the same court that in 2000 tried to rewrite Florida election law to make Al Gore president, is perhaps worse. That court would not allow on the Florida ballot any measure that would cut taxes. The justices opined that a measure that cuts taxes automatically makes less money available for government to spend, and that taxes and spending are two entirely different subjects.
By the court's “logic,” all tax cutting measures were automatically deemed to be more than one subject because they also reduced spending. What utter nonsense!
Frustrated tax activists in Florida reacted to the court’s arrogance by placing a measure on the ballot exempting from the state’s single subject rule any measure that limits government’s ability to raise revenue. Voters easily approved the measure, which should have meant that taxpayer advocates then could place measures on the ballot to limit government’s ability to increase revenues. It didn’t. The court simply ignored the new law.
The Florida Supreme Court still today will not allow on the ballot a measure that requires voter approval for new taxes. The court says that such a measure violates the single subject rule, even though such measures are exempted from that rule by the state Constitution. The court simply doesn’t care what the Constitution says.
Remember, the Constitution only means what the court says it means!
Determined activists in Florida refused to give up. They focused on property rights. A second measure was proposed to carve a single-subject exemption for initiatives that protect private property rights. The court rejected that amendment altogether; not even allowing it to be placed on the ballot. Apparently, not only does the Florida Supreme Court use the single subject rule to exclude measures it doesn’t like, but it won’t even allow voters to change the law to limit its power to do so.
Recently, ever courageous and politically incorrect Ward Connerly filed his anti-affirmative action proposal in Florida as a ballot measure, just as he had in other states. Florida activists had forewarned Connerly that the liberal justices of the Florida Supreme Court would not allow the measure to be placed on the ballot, because it was comprised of four basic provisions, even though all four dealt with the same subject.
Connerly decided to break his one measure into four separate measures and run four separate signature drives to avoid Florida’s single subject pitfall. Unbelievably, the Florida Supreme Court, rejected all four measures, saying that each of them contained more than one subject.
With calloused arrogance, the court refused to allow the affirmative action issue on the ballot in Florida, citing of course the single subject rule, even though Connerly had broken his one measure into four separate petitions.
Finally, frustrated initiative activists in Florida took their problem with the single subject rule to the U.S. Supreme Court, rightly claiming violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The U.S. Supreme Court predictably refused the case, bowing as it typically does to state law in such matters.
Similar problems have arisen with the courts in Montana, Colorado, Nevada, and other states. Liberal, elitist judges have placed their personal views over the lawfully expressed will of the people, and used their judicial authority to create or destroy lawfully proposed or passed measures. In those states, the only votes that count are those of the judges.
The judiciary today poses the greatest threat to the values, the principles and the freedoms upon which this nation was established. Many judges have exhibited such arrogance and calloused disregard for the clear meaning of the law, that reining them in has become critical and must become the highest priority of freedom loving Americans everywhere. Judges have become a law unto themselves. They have become despots.
For a while, I wondered who was the greater threat to this nation, the liberal activist judges, who violate the law to further their own political views and agenda, or the dishonest editors, who cover for them. I have come to realize that they are not separate at all, but part and parcel of the same disease.
Like the liberal judges, the liberal editors are amoral, elitist, socialists, who see government as the answer to the world’s ills. To them, the rest of us are the unwashed, the ignorant masses. They consider it their responsibility to free us from our obsession with religion, traditional morality, patriotism, capitalism, and the ownership of private property. The means they employ to do so are largely irrelevant to them. Breaking a few laws or fabricating a few new ones is a price they are willing to pay.
The remaining question is: How much longer are we going to let these arrogant, lawbreaking judges steal our most basic right to decide our own destinies at the ballot box? In the final analysis, the ballot box is all that stands between civilized revolt and violent revolt. Our own history illustrates that it is either the vote or the musket. Steal the former, and the latter eventually follows.
© 2003 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved
Bill Sizemore is a registered Independent who
works as executive director of the Oregon Taxpayers Union, a statewide
taxpayer organization. Bill was the Republican candidate for governor
in 1998. He and his wife Cindy have four children, ages eight to thirteen,
and live on 36 acres in Beavercreek, just southeast of Oregon City, Oregon.
"The point of this column is to show you that in many cases, these judges are acting in clear violation of the law, doing things that under their own state’s laws they are expressly prohibited from doing."