The Missiles of Holy Week and the Rule of Law

By Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

April 13, 2017

The history of the world is the history of violence. I had planned to write this column about the most critical act of violence in human history and its superhuman aftermath — the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter, which celebrates His resurrection in a few days, is the centerpiece of all Christian belief. Without the risen Christ, we are doomed. Only with Him can we be saved. An old Irish priest told me in my youth that Easter means there is hope for the dead. And if there is hope for the dead, there is hope for the living.

But the living must do more than just hope, because governments continue to crush hope with violence, irrespective of moral and legal norms. Last week, as Holy Week was approaching, the United States launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield because President Donald Trump was morally repulsed at the use of poison gas in Syria in the days preceding.

Trump argued that the gas could only have been deployed intentionally by the Syrian government on its own people and that that behavior was so repellant, so contrary to civilized moral norms, so disruptive to the world order as to constitute a national security threat to the United States — hence his use of force. Was his action legal?

Here is the back story.

Syria, along with the United States, is a signatory to the United Nations Charter. The U.N. Charter is a treaty signed by President Harry Truman and ratified by the U.S. Senate. Under the Constitution, treaties are the supreme law of the land, alongside the Constitution, and the federal government has a moral and legal obligation to be bound by them. The U.N. Charter limits member nations’ use of military force to defensive responses to actual attacks, pre-emptive strikes prior to nearly certain attacks and correctives pursuant to U.N. consent or pursuant to another treaty obligating military force to help an ally.

These limitations are based on Judeo-Christian just war theory, which has been accepted in the Western world for centuries and is now codified into international law. Under this international law, military force must be a last resort, used only when necessary to fight back or to prevent an imminent attack. It also must be proportional to the harm it seeks to eradicate and be likely to produce the result it seeks. Anything short of this violates international law, to which the U.S. is bound by numerous treaties.

Syria is not a threat to the U.S., nor is it likely to become one. Nor is the argument that we needed to send a message to Syria lest it use poison gas on the U.S. a valid legal argument or a realistic political one. Were this subjective fear a valid legal basis for the use of military force, the president could send missiles anytime and anywhere at anyone or anything with legal impunity.

The president’s revulsion at the sight of children suffering horrifically from the effects of poison gas is an emotional reaction — a very human and utterly normal one. Yet it in no way legally justifies an attack on a sovereign nation.

In addition to various treaties, the president is subject, of course, to the Constitution, which provides that only Congress can declare war. Yet Congress gave the president a small window in which to use military force on his own in the War Powers Resolution of 1973. That law was written in the midst of President Richard Nixon’s undeclared war in Cambodia to limit the president’s emergency use of military force absent a declaration of war from Congress to defensive strikes, pre-emptive strikes and treaty obligations.

Earlier this week, 21 retired military, intelligence and FBI personnel jointly argued that President Trump was moved to this attack by misguided or incomplete intelligence. Their view — which is based on eyewitness reports from U.S. military on the ground in Syria and intelligence reports from their former colleagues — is that Syrian President Bashar Assad did not use poison gas on his own people earlier this month. They note that Assad is clearly winning his long-fought civil war and does not need the international headache of being tarnished as a person who gassed children; nor would there be even the remotest military gain to him if he did so.

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This Memorial Day, Freedom Is Dying Before Our Very Eyes

By Judge Andrew Napolitano

What if Memorial Day reminds us of times when we had more freedom? What if freedom is dying right under our eyes? What if the memory of the past is more fulfilling than the reality of the present?

What if the federal government could write any law, regulate any behavior and tax any event, no matter what the Constitution authorized? What if the majority in Congress rejects the idea of limited government and views the Constitution as granting it blanket power to do whatever it can get away with? What if the constitutional prohibition on the government’s taking of life, liberty or property without due process of law is only for show and is not for real?

What if the House of Representatives seriously considered letting the military lock up whatever Americans the president ordered the troops to arrest, without charges filed or lawyers present or a judge presiding? What if the House seriously debated this idea of indefinite military detention of Americans in America and actually voted in favor of it? What if this unconstitutional monstrosity becomes the law and your right to due process depends on whether you remain with the majority, stay silent or behave properly? What if the Constitution’s guarantees are not guarantees at all, but are subject to the whims of whoever is in power?

What if the Declaration of Independence, which articulated the moral authority for the revolution against Great Britain, recognized that our rights come from our Creator and are inalienable? What if very few in government recognize the divine origin of human freedom and its natural integrity to our humanity?
What if the government only permitted freedom so long as it was exercised as the government pleases? What if the government rejected the basic values of every person’s right to life and liberty and property in favor of some collective good, where the government could arrest you without evidence, ration your freedom to suit the general welfare and take your property from you and sell it at a profit?

What if the government could hire thugs to keep you safe? What if it gave the thugs uniforms and badges and sent them to airports? What if it gave them rubber gloves to wear and told them they could touch you and your children and your parents however and wherever they wished? What if these thugs touched the private parts of little babies and old ladies and intentionally restrained those who have criticized them while the rest of us just watched and let this happen?

What if the airlines did a better job of keeping their customers happy and their property safe than the thugs did? What if the government spent millions of your tax dollars to advertise what a great job it’s doing? What if the government charged the airlines millions of their dollars for the illusory services these thugs are rendering? What if the government’s thugs never caught a single bad guy intent on harming a flight in America? What if the government’s thugs actually let weapons and bad guys onto planes because the thugs are dopes who have no competition, who can’t be sued and who won’t be fired?

What if the government found more dopes and dupes and convinced them that they should conspire to commit acts of terrorism? What if the idea for terrorist acts and the means for committing them came from the government? What if no real threats were involved in these games and no real weapons were used, just fake threats and fake weapons, fomented and provided by the government? What if the government created these phony crimes just so that it could solve them? What if no one was ever in danger from these government-created crimes, except those the government tricked? What if the government did this again and again and then boasted that it was keeping us safe from its own creations? What if Congress and the media and even the courts fell for this?

What if, on Memorial Day, we remember times that were more free than today? What if, on Memorial Day, when we think of those who died for our freedom, we end up recognizing that the freedom they died for is dying? What if it becomes fashionable for the government to ignore the Constitution? What if the Constitution dies because the government stops following it? What if, next Memorial Day, freedom is just a memory?
What do we do about it?

Do We Have A 1st Amendment Anymore?

This bill was signed in secret by the President in March of 2012.  When we say we have all of the pieces in place for a “turn-key dictatorship”, this is further proof.  Have we become a third world nation where despots control what is seen and heard?

Let’s see who voted for this terrible piece of legislation: HR 347 Vote Tally

All of the WI Congressional Reps voted for this bill.  The U.S. Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent, so there is no record of how they voted on it.  However, all it would have took was for a Senator to object and ask for a roll call vote.

This is disgraceful!!!

Wisconsin
Yea   R   Ryan, Paul WI 1st
Yea   D   Baldwin, Tammy WI 2nd
Yea   D   Kind, Ronald “Ron” WI 3rd
Yea   D   Moore, Gwen WI 4th
Yea   R   Sensenbrenner, James WI 5th
Yea   R   Petri, Thomas “Tom” WI 6th
Yea   R   Duffy, Sean WI 7th
Yea   R   Ribble, Reid WI 8th

South Carolina, Ron Paul, and The Lincoln Myth

On the topic of Lincoln…as was mentioned in our last meeting, a good book to read is “The Real Lincoln” by Thomas DiLorenzo.

Judge Napolitano On Fake Terror Threats

Is Super Congress Constitutional?

FL Judge Rules Health Care Law Unconstitutional 01/31/11