Civics 101 For Hate-monger Republicans

Civics 101 For Hate-monger Republicans

Oklahoma Representative Thad Balkman (Republican), cried piteously about a court ruling from 19th May: "It's another case of an activist court trying to legislate from the bench. It's unfortunate that a single judge is trying to rewrite the law."

This is utterly contemptible hogwash from start to finish, and here's why:

In a democratic, republican system of government, such as exists in the U.S., there is what is called a Separation of Powers. Every level of government -- municipal, state, and federal -- is subject to this concept. Under the Separation of Powers, the government is divided into three branchs:

  • Executive: the office of the highest elected member of that government: mayor, governor, president; the function of which is to ratify or veto laws put before it by the:

  • Legislative: which branch proposes, debates, and passes or rejects proposals for laws, or amendments to or the repealing of already extent laws; each of which is subject to critical review by:
  • Judicial: which branch interprets those laws which are passed by the various legislatures and ratified by the various executives, and considers the fitness thereof by testing them against the constitution.

The Judicial branch has no authority or wherewithal in any way, shape, or form, to "legislate" or rewrite laws. Moreover, a 05 Jan court ruling by the 10 Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that precept and the Separation of Powers. Also be it noted that in order to form a more perfect union, it is necessary for this branch to be removed from political maneuvering, manipulation, or intimidation. To support this, there is in place a principle called Judicial Independence. In effect: to ensure that justices are better able to effect "justice", they are completely autonomous and unaccountable for their rulings, so long as they themselves do not violate any laws or codes of ethics.

The sole purpose of the courts is to maintain a level playing field and to be a last resort in the petitioning of government for a redress of a grievance.

So squealing little hate-monger Balkman told a lie. A damned lie. A damned odious lie!

But out of what motive or background?

This utter falsehood was either stated deliberately or from simple ignorance of basic American Civics.

If it was uttered with a reckless disregard for the truth, then Balkman is a vile blashphemer before the Eighth Commandmant: Thou shalt not bear false witness. He has also, in my not so humble opinion, perpetrated slander against Judge Cauthron. Now, you might be saying that he did not specifically name Judge Cauthron, but he did sufficiently identify the Judge, " . . . a single judge is trying to rewrite the law", and imputed to that judge an act of judicial malfeasance or misconduct; to whit: that he violated the Separation of Powers.

If this baseless falsehood was the result of abject ignorance, then Balkman isn't really in any better position. He's elected to public office, for crying out loud! How can an elected official be so purblind ignorant of his function in public office as to make a statement that is so totally at odds with the political reality of his community, state, and country?!

In either event, it was Balkman who has violated the Separation of Powers and the principle of Judicial Independence by making an utterance the sole purpose of which is to bring the judicial branch under the sway of the executive, and political maneuvering, manipulation, or intimidation thereby.

So, here's what I propose:

  1. Judge Cauthron should sue Balkman for libel. If it turns out that Balkman did in fact slander the judge, he should be dismissed from office on the grounds of contempt for due process and democratic governance; and dismissed with prejudice, meaning that he would be forbidden to work in any public function, whether elected, appointed, or employed.

  2. Any legislation that does not pass constitutional muster as a failure of human rights, should be grounds for immediate recall of those elected officials who voted in its favor for they're having gone forsworn in not defending the constitution. (Although that measure might very well violate the Fifth Amendment, as they would necessarily implicate themselves by how they voted.)
  3. Candidates for public office, at any level, should be required to pass an examination composed of essay questions pertaining to the basic civics that should be public knowledge (passing grade to be not less than 85% and maybe higher), and any elected official who displays ignorance of civics while in office should immediately be suspended without pay until he can demonstrate a proper level of knowledge and that he is fit for candidature and re-election at the next vote. The examinations, being government documents, will be public property.
  4. At the very least, the American corporate press should put this cry-baby's feet to the fire and demand that he explain himself for either his blasphemy, his slander, or his ignorance.

Comments

Lack of authority doesn't mean lack of will

Fang,Your understanding of the different responsibilities of our federal government will stand you in good stead if you ever want to apply for citizenship in the US.I'm not here to write about this particular case, but must point out that although the judicial and executive branches are prohibited from legislation, that has not deterred President Bush from attempting to rewrite law through presidential signing statements.Since the President has tried to overstep his authority by amending legislation through his signing statements, I would not be surprised that a few judges somewhere have used their power of interpretation to effectively create new laws.

Clarification

To support this, there is in place a principle called Judicial Independence. In effect: to ensure that justices are better able to effect "justice", they are completely autonomous and unaccountable for their rulings, so long as they themselves do not violate any laws or codes of ethics.

Many states elected their judges and justices. In these states, they are actually accountable to the voters.

Judge Cauthron should sue Balkman for libel. If it turns out that Balkman did in fact slander the judge, he should be dismissed from office on the grounds of contempt for due process and democratic governance; and dismissed with prejudice, meaning that he would be forbidden to work in any public function, whether elected, appointed, or employed.

What about the spirit of the speech and debate clause to the United States Constitution? I know that Representative Balkman is not a member of Congress and thus the clause is inapplicable. The clause to the US Constitution that allows members of Congress to say anything while speaking or debating legislation. Take a peek at United States v. Brewster, 408 U.S. 501, 507 (1972). The US Supreme Court said, "...the immunities of the Speech or Debate Clause were not written into the Constitution simply for the personal or private benefit of Members of Congress, but to protect the integrity of the legislative process by insuring the independence of individual legislators." Hey, sounds like that double-edged sword of Separation of Powers. The Oklahoma State Consitution actually has a speech and debate clause that is identical to the US Constitution's, so I guess your idea violates the spirit of the US Constitution's clause as well as the actual language of the OK Constitution and it sounds like you are in favor of eroding the independence of the legislative branch of government.

Sounds like others need to brush up on their civics.

Re:Clarification

I've already cited the Oklahoma Constitution and the Oklahoma case law the interprets it and guess what? Your are just plain wrong.

Get over it and discontinue lashing out because you were wrong.

Re:Lack of authority doesn't mean lack of will

Your understanding of the different responsibilities of our federal government will stand you in good stead if you ever want to apply for citizenship in the US.

Thank you. Ditch the Republican Party and the U.S. will certainly look more attractive. :-)

Kidding aside, however, I'd as lief stay here in Canada and agitate for providing refugee shelter for draft dodgers and exiles of conscience on the run from the Iraq Crime Against Humanity. Which it might very well come to if the Republicans steal the '08 presidential election.

. . . must point out that although the judicial and executive branches are prohibited from legislation, that has not deterred President Bush from attempting to rewrite law through presidential signing statements.

Yes, I would certainly say that is a clear case of rewriting laws: adding language to them which alters the meaning or intent. Funny how the right-wing and the so-called "liberal" press haven't been making hay with that one. There is certainly no indication that any of the so-called activist judges have been adding language to the laws they've been striking down. I think what really pisses off the right-wing is that the courts are not only not allowing them to perpetrate one human rights
violation after ano ther, but that the courts even have a line item veto they can use to strike down constitutionally infirm provisions within a law while leaving any other provisions in that law intact.

Or maybe it's just that the courts deal with complexities the bivariate typologists just can't wrap their minds around.

Since the President has tried to overstep his authority by amending legislation through his signing statements, I would not be surprised that a few judges somewhere have used their power of interpretation to effectively create new laws.

It's a sticky issue, no doubt. What sloppy lawmakers just don't get is the dynamic fluidity of language. You can write words on paper which, to your mind, convey a certain specific concept, and someone else can look at what you've written and interpret it to mean something you haven't at all thought about.

In this case, however, it has nothing to do with the language used, it's got to do with a willful and deliberate abrogation of the 14th Amendment. And I'd bet five bucks that Balkman would never have spoken the way he did if that law had targeted an ethnicity instead of an orientation. It's just more of the same thing, really. The ultra-right can't pick on niggers and kikes any more, so they are targetting fags and lezzies instead. In the end, it's all about the disfranchisement of
those-who-are-not-one-of-us. Which is kind of funny. The same right-wing will scream rape over being equated with Hitler and Naziism, but here they are trying to disfranchise people the same way Hitler did to the German Jews.

"Absolute Privilege"

Look this up in your civics primer.

Re:Clarification

Here is the Oklahoma Supreme Court in Brock v. Thompson, 948 P.2d 279, 287-88 (OK 1997) interpreting the Oklahoma Speech and Debate Clause (Ok. Const. Article v Sec. 22):

The Speech or Debate Clause of the Oklahoma Constitution, Art. 5 Sec. 22, absolutely protects legislators from suit calling for judicial inquiry into their performance "within the sphere of legitimate legislative activity." Legislators may not be haled into court, either to account for acts that occurred in the course of legislative process or for judicial inquiry into their motivation for those acts. The legislative privilege has never been limited to words spoken in debate. The constitution's immunity shields all enactment-related conduct, whether a legislator be sued (1) personally, (2) in an official capacity, or (3) as the Legislature's leader.

Just give it up. Absolute means absolute when it is within the sphere of legitimate legislative activity. You obviously don't agree with it but it is clearly political speech and it is also within the sphere of legislative activity.

In addition, the Oklahoma statutes also protects that type of speech by making it privileged Here is the libel and slander statute (defamation is included in this) in Okl. Stat. Ann. Sec. 1443.1.

Privileged communication defined--Exemption from libel

A. A privileged publication or communication is one made:

First. In any legislative or judicial proceeding or any other proceeding authorized by law;

Second. In the proper discharge of an official duty;

Third. By a fair and true report of any legislative or judicial or other proceeding authorized by law, or anything said in the course thereof, and any and all expressions of opinion in regard thereto, and criticisms thereon, and any and all criticisms upon the official acts of any and all public officers, except where the matter stated of and concerning the official act done, or of the officer, falsely imputes crime to the officer so criticized.

B. No publication which under this section would be privileged shall be punishable as libel.

No go.

Re:Clarification

Defamation is not protected speech. Indications are Balkman spoke with a reckless disregard for the truth and in effort to smear Cauthron's reputation. It's probably slander and Balkman is liable for it if it is.

Re:Clarification

First. In any legislative or judicial proceeding or any other proceeding authorized by law;

By the literalist interpretation which you espoused above, Balkman was not participating in any legislative or judicial proceeding. He was commenting on a current event. The judicial procedure had already terminated.

Second. In the proper discharge of an official duty;

Third. By a fair and true report

If Balkman was engaged in a deliberate distortion with an eye to smearing an honest official, he was not acting properly or fairly, and I have already demonstrated that his statement was not true.

And by the way: the Bill of Rights is also absolute. Your slavering hate-mongers don't much care to admit that, though, do they?

Re:Clarification

Many states elected their judges and justices. In these states, they are actually accountable to the voters.

Yes, and even those judges are immune from being buttonholed by the press, private citizens, or elected parasites, and made to explain themselves for their rulings.

What about the spirit of the speech and debate clause to the United States Constitution? I know that Representative Balkman is not a member of Congress and thus the clause is inapplicable.

Oh, this is rich; in one and the same breath you've melded the spirit of the Constitution with a literalist interpretation.

One of the things that breaks the hearts of American right-wing nuts is the non-literal interpretation of the Constitution. Since 1928, the U.S. Supreme Court has increasingly been interpreting the term "Congress" to mean any person, whether elected, appointed, or employed, at any level of government. That means everybody from the dogcatcher to the President-Select.

The clause to the US Constitution that allows members of Congress to say anything while speaking or debating legislation.

By your interpretation of the letter, Balkman is not eligible because he is not a member of Congress. Nor can your scenario apply because he was not speaking in the legislature during such a debate. His utterance can only be protected under the spirit of the Constitution through an expansive interpretation of the concept.

The Oklahoma State Consitution actually has a speech and debate clause that is identical to the US Constitution's, . . .

Does it also contain an analog to the 9th Amendment; which, in spirit, says no individual right or freedom supercedes or abrogates or derogates from any other rights or freedoms pertinent to a person or to other people? Under such a measure, Balkman's right to lie like a slut does not grant carte blanche to violate the Separation of Powers or to defame anyone.

Simple really

The judge has no damage to his reputation, his good name, earnings, marital bliss, social status, country club membership. No damage, no grounds to bring an action.

Secondarily the politican was expressing an opinion. It is clear it was an opinion as he was opining on how he felt the judiciary acted. Opinions are never defamatory. It is just how he felt about the judge's ruling.

Third since the judge is a public figure the law gives everyone more leeway to criticise him. Public figures must expect such scrutiny.

I thought everyone here was in favor of free speech and being able to freely express one's opinion. Defamation actions because someone expressed an opinion of the actions of a public official would certainly stifle that speech.

No need to involve the Constitution. I think activist judges are arseholes too. Sue me.

Re:Simple really

The politician was violating the judge's Absolute Privilege. An act of rank hypocrisy. Further, his statements were complete falsehoods. They were uttered with reckless disregard for the truth, and, I have no doubt, with the intent to smear the judge's reputation. Judges also run for election, and the right-wing, propagandist, smear machine does have an impact on elections of the judiciary.

The politician was either a lieing blasphemer and slanderer, or so abjectly ignorant he has no place in public office.

Syndicate content