Constitutional Thinking: America’s four-box system
Last week we reminded all Texans, and citizens of every state, of the need to fully use our 10th Amendment to protect State Rights under the Constitution. We do not have to put up with everything the Federal government sends our way.
When I speak of our Four-Box system, I am describing the ways our rights are protected under the Constitution.
The first three boxes are: the soap box, the ballot box and the jury box.
The Soap Box is the easiest way we can, as individuals, get involved in determining the direction our country is taking. Everyone can study up and learn what is going on, them spread what they have learned to their friends and family. There are many ways to do that. Just pick what works for you.
Individual action is the most important, but the Tea Parties and similar local or national political groups are a great way we can work together to give constitutional ideas a louder and stronger voice. Don’t hesitate to get involved with a good group. It makes everything more fun and potentially more effective.
The only qualification to join the team is a love of our country, its Constitution and freedom. There is a position on the team for all ages, races, and backgrounds. This is America. Just be sure any team leaders are consistently following the Constitutional rule book. Check them out
If you are not involved, now is the time to be. Get off the couch and join in. The game that really counts is not on TV. The really Big Games, for all your marbles, are played in Washington, D.C. and our State capitols. We have to effectively use our second box, the Ballot Box at every opportunity, so our team will not be outnumbered.
Jury nullification through the Jury Box is our third box. The right of the jury to enforce or not enforce any particular law that applies to the case in question gives these twelve men and women on a jury more power than Congress, the President and the Supreme Court combined. One clear thinking jury member can "hang" the jury.
Judges and prosecutors are doing everything they can to neuter the power of the jury, but we still usually have it available. They pile on charges so as to intimidate defendants to take a plea bargain and avoid a jury trial. The judges intimidate and lie to jurors about their power and cause them to think they might get in trouble if they vote their consciences.
The judge may ask if you can follow the law as he gives it, so you say sure, but remember he does not make the law so you need not follow his instructions. His job is to referee the trial and provide neutral legal advice to the jury, which includes a full explanation of a juror’s rights and responsibilities.
Judges rarely "fully inform" jurors of their rights, especially their power to judge the law itself and tell you to consider "only the facts." John Adams, our second president, said it is a juror’s duty to vote his conscience.
Thomas Jefferson said, "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."
The nation’s Founders had seen colonial printer Peter Zenger tried for printing a critical – but true story about the Governor of New York. The court said, "Truth is no defense", but the jury said it was, and acquitted.
They remembered the story of William Penn’s trial for preaching "illegal" religious doctrine in London, but the brave jury stood their ground in the face of great hardship. We did not get our free press, free speech, and freedom of religion by magic. They were earned.
Tell the other jury members if you don’t believe the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, or the veracity of the informants, or the police. A hung jury often causes the prosecutor to drop charges, and a bunch of hung juries make a bad law difficult to enforce.
The fourth box, the Cartridge Box, is available to be used if the others are taken from us. We really don’t want it to come down to that. Please use the other three now.