“An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation as inoperative as though it had never been passed.” – U.S. Supreme Court, Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425 (1886)
Today, I was cited $150 in fines for ludicrous and contrived traffic violations in Panama where I temporarily live. I want to devote this article to explaining, yet again, what tyranny is, why most government operations – including police functions – are tyranny under a different name, and where true political authority comes from.
Before I discourse on what tyranny is, let me say what crime is not. Crime is not violating the law. That’s not crime, because “the law” is often unjust, tyrannical, arbitrary, oppressive, unequal, disproportional, and, consequently, invalid and illegitimate. It is no crime to disobey and reject unjust, unequal, and rights-violating “laws.”
This idea comes directly from our unique American heritage and is foreign in most nations. Rebellion to tyrants is the American tradition. Our Founding Fathers rebelled against their government, shot or tarred and feathered government agents, waged war against their government, and created a new legal system and society. Had their revolution failed, they would have been executed as “traitors” because they indeed committed “treason” according to the atrocious “laws” of Great Britain and its corrupt king.
Five of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, in fact, were captured, tortured, and murdered. Other signers were killed by the British in the course of their revolt against tyranny. Yet, despite the laws and edicts prohibiting them from doing what they did, our forefathers “illegally” rebuffed Parliament’s unjust laws, “rebelliously” defied the king’s immoral edicts, and “treasonously” rose in armed rebellion against their oppressors.
I repeat: It is no crime to merely disobey a law if that law is unjust or otherwise immoral. Don’t just take my word for it. Here is what the great Thomas Jefferson said:
“[R]ightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’; because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual” (Thomas Jefferson to Isaac H. Tiffany, April 4, 1819).
The law is often – I would say usually – “the tyrant’s will.” And it is always tyranny when it steps on, violates, abrogates, infringes upon, or ignores your God-given, natural, individual rights in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Every law loses its force and validity the moment it steps one toe across the line of your Liberty.
It was not only Thomas Jefferson who espoused this view. All of the Founding Fathers believed in a similar fashion and wrote in many different ways, under varied circumstances, about what constitutes illegitimate government. Theophilus Parsons expressed this sentiment at the Massachusetts ratifying convention:
“No power was given to Congress to infringe on any one of the natural rights of the people by this Constitution; and should they attempt it without constitutional authority, the act would be a nullity, and could not be enforced” (Theophilus Parsons, in Neil L. York, ed., Toward a More Perfect Union: Six Essays on the Constitution, 163).
Roger Sherman explained another situation where government acts are void:
“The powers vested in the federal government are only such as respect the common interests of the Union, and are particularly defined, so that each State retains its sovereignty in what respects its own internal government, and a right to exercise every power of a sovereign State not delegated to the United States. And tho’ the general government in matters within its jurisdiction is paramount to the constitutions and laws of the particular States, yet all acts of the Congress not warranted by the constitution would be void. Nor could they be enforced contrary to the sense of a majority of the States. One excellency of the constitution is that when the government of the United States acts within its proper bounds it will be the interest of the legislatures of the particular States to support it, but when it overleaps those bounds and interferes with the rights of the State governments, they will be powerful enough to check it; but distinction between their jurisdictions will be so obvious, that there will be no great danger of interference” (Roger Sherman, December 8, 1787).
The famed St. George Tucker observed:
“All men being by nature equal, in respect to their rights, no man nor set of men, can have any natural, or inherent right, to rule over the rest.
“This right cannot be acquired by conquest. . . .
“The right of governing can, therefore, be acquired only by consent. . . .
“Legitimate government can therefore be derived only from the voluntary grant of the people, and exercised for their benefit.
“Since the union of the sovereignty with the government, constitutes a state of absolute power, or tyranny, over the people, every attempt to effect such a union is treason against the sovereignty, in the actors; and every extension of the administrative authority beyond its constitutional limits, is absolutely an act of usurpation in the government, of that sovereignty, which the people have reserved to themselves” (St. George Tucker, in Warren L. McFerran, The Principles of Constitutional Government: Political Sovereignty, 48-49).
Founding Father Oliver Ellsworth, who was a lawyer, the third chief justice of the Supreme Court, a senator from Connecticut, and played a key role at the Constitutional Convention, stated:
“This Constitution defines the extent of the powers of the general government. If the general legislature should at any time overleap their limits, the judicial department is a constitutional check. If the United States go beyond their powers, if they make a law which the Constitution does not authorize, it is void; and the judicial power, the national judges, who to secure their impartiality, are to be made independent, will declare it to be void. On the other hand, if the states go beyond their limits, if they make a law which is a usurpation upon the federal government the law is void; and upright, independent judges will declare it to be so.”
Next, one of the first Supreme Court justices under President Washington, James Iredell, discussed this principle by giving us a hypothetical:
“If any future Congress should pass an act concerning the religion of the country, it would be an act which they are not authorized to pass, by the Constitution, and which the people would not obey. Every one would ask, “Who authorized the government to pass such an act? It is not warranted by the Constitution, and is barefaced usurpation.””
Finally, James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 46:
“[S]hould an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter. But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm. Every government would espouse the common cause. A correspondence would be opened. Plans of resistance would be concerted. One spirit would animate and conduct the whole.”
We could do this all day, but those few statements give you the flavor of our Founders’ thoughts. When government oversteps its bounds, it abdicates its authority, violates the social compact, and its acts become null and void. This is true of individual officers as well as government considered collectively. No one is bound by the illegitimate acts of government. No one must submit to illegitimate government. No one must demand compliance with unconstitutional, immoral, arbitrary, unjust, or oppressive “laws” no matter how many congresses, presidents, judges, and voters approve them because, as Samuel Adams put it in “The Rights of the Colonists” in 1772:
“If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.”
Political sovereignty transmits outward from the People. And the People is comprised of individuals. Each individual holds equal rights and authority as any other. No police officer or government agent has any authority greater than the lowest citizen. While many of the above statements concerned the relationship between the states and the federal government, I affirm that they apply in local and state situations. In fact, they apply always and forever because the matter of authority vs usurpation is always and forever present and preexisted government, the Constitution, or manmade conventions.
Here, then, is the greatest litmus test to determine whether an action, policy, law, rule, or regulation is appropriate, just, and right: Do you have the authority and right to do it? If so, then you may delegate that authority to a police officer or to government, as the case may be. However, if you personally, as a private citizen, do not have a right to do a thing, you cannot delegate any such authority to another person no matter who he is. You can’t delegate what you don’t by right possess.
Hans Verlan Andersen, in his must-read book Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen, explained:
“The danger that we will abuse the police power any time that it is made subject to our direction is most likely for several reasons:
“1. It is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. (D&C 121:39)
“2. When we use force upon each other through government, we do so without fear of retaliation or condemnation, so conscience alone remains to restrain us.
“3. We are easily deceived about government, because we are inclined to accept the following fallacies:
“(a) Anything legal is also moral.
“(b) We are not individually responsible for government action.
“(c) A different moral law applies when men act in concert, than it does when they act alone” (Hans Verlan Andersen, Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen, 2-3).
Let’s apply these principles to several situations and see what we surmise. Can you randomly pull up behind someone in your car and force them to pull over onto the side of the road? Can you randomly demand to see another person’s identification? Can you stop another person and compel them to pay a toll to pass a random point? Can you take away a person’s means of self-defense? Can you confiscate a person’s property or wealth or earnings? Can you take a child out of a family’s home, excepting, of course, if that child is in authentic danger? Can you even enter another person’s house or property without permission? Can you demand that a person pay you money for the privilege of traveling, or getting married, or driving a vehicle, or entering public land, or lighting a fire outside, or walking across a street at an “unauthorized” point, ad infinitum?
No cop, no government representative, no judge, no IRS agent, no military general, no mayor, no president, no priest, no teacher, no school board stooge, no border patrol agent, no security guard, no banker, no neighbor, and no posse, has any ounce of moral authority to strip another peaceable individual of his personal property, which includes his earnings, money, and livelihood. Period.
We do not have power over other people. We may not interfere in their lives. We only have the authority and right to direct our own personal stewardship. So, too, when acting together in government, we don’t have the authority to interfere in other people’s lives. Only when someone surrenders his rights by violating the rights of another person or of society may we then act to take from that person his life, Liberty, or property, according to the severity of the crime.
Apply this understanding to your daily life and you will see that most of what government does is illegitimate and unauthorized by any reasonable sense of justice. Marriage licenses, driver’s licenses, building permits, death taxes, property restrictions, are all illicit and immoral. They all constitute gross usurpations and overreach.
Now let me make this personal. I opened this article by stating that I was cited for $150 worth of bogus traffic violations by a traffic cop clearly behind in his quotas. While the corpulent cop who randomly flagged me down at a pseudo checkpoint where a gaggle of officers sat licking their chops to rob passersby of their hard-earned money indeed had a “legal” right to arbitrarily steal $150 from my pocket, this authority is illegitimate because, as a private citizen, he has no such right.
Even when his fellow officer wanted to ignore the situation, he persisted and eagerly tallied up all the infractions he could think up while ignoring the petitions of my wife who was made late for work by this incident. I broke no law of any substance, even though I was indeed in violation of arbitrary regulations that would never be on the books in a sane society – such as having an outdated license plate (i.e. failing to give more of my money to the government for no good reason).
Think about it more deeply. If a random person cannot randomly accost you and take your money (that is called theft in most places), neither can a cop who gets 100% of his authority from that random person. The law allowing this mini-tyrant to steal property from other people is tyrannical, oppressive, and unjust. The law be damned! The servile line-toers and enforcers of the law be damned as well!
In situations like these, the people I am with always get mad at me and tell me to calm down instead of getting indignant at the unjust tyranny-enforcer (they must not be fond of me calling police “parasites” and describing, in so many words, why public execution of tyrants should be brought back. It made me even angrier to think that, at that very moment, I had a pocket Constitution and Declaration of Independence in my pocket, but that it is not recognized in this banana republic). My blood can’t help but boil because I understand my rights, I know what tyranny is when I see it, and I am not one of those of whom Thomas Jefferson said “all timid men . . . prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty” (Thomas Jefferson to Philip Mazzei, April 24, 1796).
I am not a timid man and I curse the timid who comply, submit, and slavishly follow those in so-called “authority.” If only they knew it, these bootlickers are the true sovereigns who hold every ounce of power and authority that those in uniform hold on loan from them. In a coming day, there will be confrontation between those with legitimate authority – that is, the People – and the usurpers of all stripes, whether they be local police, IRS agents, federal judges, presidents, senators, or Kathy on the schoolboard. Tyrants will be hurled down from their false thrones. They will be humbled. Their corrupt temple of lies and infamy will be demolished. The tree of Liberty will be nourished once more with the blood of traitors.
Revolutionary patriot James Otis was a fiery figure who rebuffed the British government for its usurpations and oppression. In one article, he took off the gloves and stated the qualities of a true patriot and representative of the People and what we should do when our rights are trampled:
“Integrity, with a sincere love for liberty & the British constitution, are also absolutely necessary; without integrity you cannot rely on his wisdom or abilities, and without a regard for liberty and the British constitution, he may value his own interest before that of his country; such a man will be always unfit to represent a free people, as he will be liable to yield to bribery of one kind or other, and sacrifice the public good to his private emolument, whenever he shall be tempted. Prudence and fortitude are likewise essential; if he has not prudence he may needlessly irritate your enemies; if he has not fortitude he may timidly give up your just Rights. There is however no character so dangerous to liberty as the man of prudence. You may possibly be right, but at this juncture it is not prudent to insist upon it, is the language of artful courtiers, and has done more hurt than can well be imagined. When our rights are invaded, it is high time to throw aside prudence, and believe me my countrymen, he is not worthy your suffrages who on such an occasion wou’d prudently resign them for the sake of peace. He that is afraid to speak his mind, and is for suffering injury, injustice or oppression, rather than disturb public tranquility or more properly dangerous security, is not to be confided in; for it is always safer to oppose any the least infraction of our happy constitution, than prudently to acquiesce for the preservation of peace. He that does not know ambition as well as avarice in rulers is never satisfied, and to yield in the material point only makes way for another, and so on till there is no more to give, must be a novice indeed; and he that knowing this, still persists to act on maxims of prudence, where our charter rights are concerned, is no better than a traitor to his country. A free government never degenerated into tyranny all at once, it is the work of years. There is nothing however will in the end more surely work the destruction of liberty, than a prevailing opinion that it is better tamely to submit than nobly assert and vindicate our priviledges. Prudence is necessary and only desirable to temper his conduct, and preserve him from ill timed and over heated zeal, in affairs of little or no moment, and which cannot affect the constitution: but he that is constantly preaching up this doctrine as suitable on all occasions is not to be trusted; as by that means he may ignorantly if not willfully betray your rights, and resign them into the hands of such men as are watching for your destruction” (James Otis, April 27, 1767).
Dear reader, our rights are being invaded daily by oath-breakers, usurpers, and totalitarians. War is being waged against us. Governments in all lands have exceeded their mandate, violated the rights of their citizens, and lord over people as if they have a natural right to rule them. Shackles are being fastened on our wrists. Our pocketbooks are being systematically robbed in what Frederic Bastiat called “legal plunder.” In fact, he observed: “The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!”
Yes, police play a crucial role in the march of tyranny. If police refused to enforce unjust laws, there would be no unjust laws. It would be as if they didn’t exist and the People would remain free. Yet, police have, by and large, sided with the enemy. They, like the sad example of a man who legally robbed me today, have chosen the path of power over others instead of the Liberty wherewith the Lord has made us free. All of this evil, including legalized plunder, enslavement of populations, and literal genocide, is being perpetrated against our world by a cult of criminals and their gaggle of local power-hungry enforcers. Are you ready yet to cast aside prudence?
When will we rise? When will the slaves rise up against their masters? We virtue signal and say that slavery is wrong, but our actions show that we don’t really believe it. If we did, we would rebel at the creeping attempt by usurpers to shackle us economically, politically, and spiritually. Slavery is evil no matter whether it is Jews in Israel enslaving Eastern European women or Europeans enslaving blacks or Africans enslaving Africans or Arabs enslaving white women or Thai people enslaving each other or Mexican cartels enslaving children and trafficking them across the open U.S. border or governments enslaving their peoples from China to Australia to Chile to France. It’s all the same and it’s wrong.
This corrupt temple will be cleansed. Will you help cleanse it or will you timidly go along with the lies that police and governments can do whatever they want, that they have authority over you, and that they submitting to them is a virtue? If parasitic police stealing your money based on asinine traffic violations that have no modicum of justice and legitimate authority to support them makes you angry, it should! Get angry! Our rights are being invaded, restricted, and deleted on a daily basis. It must end. But it will only end when those with legitimate authority – that is, you – care enough to stand up and fight.
“Let the people, the whole American people, rise up and say they will have these abuses regulated, and no longer suffer political demagogues to gamble away their money, but turn them out of office to attend to their own business. Let the people make a whip, if not of good tough rawhide, of small cords at least, and walk into the temple of the nation, and cleanse it thoroughly out, and put in men who will legislate for their good, instead of gambling away their money and trifling with the sacred interests of the nation which have been entrusted to their keeping.” – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, 13-14, July 4, 1854.
August 23, 2022