Just Law Amendment
I am proposing a constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring law is consistent with liberty. Imposition includes safety as physical harm is imposition, crimes against property destruction or theft imposes on an individual’s means, and other impositions that affects an individual’s ability to do as they please. Laws that do not prevent imposition are unjust, they serve no public benefit, and are the imposition of a subjective preference of one group (usually intent on creating an advantage) onto the rest. These laws do not serve the public interest.
The people of the United States do not have much say in the laws they are subject to. Not only do many laws fail to represent the interest of the people, but they fail to represent the will of the people. First, people are born into laws that exist without their consent. From there other laws are created without consultation, input, or consent of the public who is expected to abide by these laws.
The amendment I would like to create would forbid the creation of any law that can be shown to impose without preventing imposition or where law can be questioned on the basis of net liberty. There are many laws that can be shown definitively not to prevent imposition, while others fall into a grey area where net liberty (imposition prevented verse imposition imposed) cannot be definitively known. Based on an objective understanding of the purposes of government and the purposes of law which is liberty, liberty should be the constitutional basis for determining whether or not a law is just. This is something I began considering only recently while I was in jail in Sumter county, and because I am trying to edit and publish this book, it isn’t something I want to rush to include it in the book.
As a substitute for an amendment that would anchor legal philosophy in liberty, the Just Law Amendment I propose will make it incumbent upon the courts to allow a defendant in a criminal case to inform the jury of their power to determine whether or not a law is just, and allow the defense to make arguments against the law itself.
There is already support for the idea. There are grassroots movements in different states to pass a statute which would accomplish what I hope will be accomplished through this kind of amendment to the constitution. The difference between the amendment I propose, and the statutes sought by others is the objective morality of liberty that can be used to measure whether or not a law is just from a place of objectivity, to eliminate individual jurors’ subjective sense of justice which can cause law itself to become arbitrary. Arguments for jury nullification would have to be limited to merits of liberty-based justice regarding the law. A just law challenge should not be based on efforts to create sympathy for the individual, rather a fundamental challenge to the law based on the law imposing without preventing imposition, or where there is negative net liberty (the law imposes more restrictions than it prevents). The prosecution in a just law challenge can argue the merits of the law. Meaning the defense does not gain any unfair advantage in proceedings.
A jury already has the power to find people not guilty for any reason they choose, of course they are not instructed concerning this power, instead they are instructed to decide the case based on whether those facts constitute a violation of the law. A California dispensary owner appealed a marijuana conviction where he was sentenced to 18 years under federal law for operating front dispensaries to distribute marijuana outside of the dispensaries. His appeal was based on the court giving the jury strict anti-nullification instructions. The 9th circuit court of appeals ruled “The court had no duty to make the jury aware of its power to nullify, and properly instructed the jury that it could not 1: substitute its sense of justice for its duty to follow the law, or 2: decide whether a law is just or unjust.” (1)
1: Reason 06/20/2017 “Juries Can Acquit the Guilty 9th Circuit Court Says, But There Is No Right to Jury Nullification”, by Jacob Sullum. https://reason.com/2017/06/20/although-juries-can-acquit-the-guilty-9t/
A jury has the power, but not the right to nullify. A court has the right and usually an obligation not to inform the jury of this power, and the defense does not have the right to inform the jury of this power.
We consider how laws are created in this country. Generally, wealth and industry fund candidates in both parties that allow these candidates to be competitive. People vote for candidates without much understanding of who these candidates are or what laws they will propose or support. The average voter makes decisions based on rhetoric and platitudes and anything substantive they are voting for is addressing a subject they have very limited understanding of. Votes are cast based on an association with a party, and that party’s association with people that person likes (family, friends, or other people).
The public has very little input and oversight over the laws they are to be governed by. For this reason, jury nullification is an important part of ensuring the morality of law, where all laws are subject to samples of popular oversight to ensure the laws represent the will and the interest of the people, so law doesn’t remain the instrument of powerful few, to impose on the rest of the population. There is no difference between a king decreeing a law that is adverse to the interests of most people, and a group who has an interest in people being incarcerated, business or federal agency, who lobbies, promotes, and passes laws that do not serve the interest of the public. Furthermore, citizens should be protected from the ignorance of the population, where a law may reflect popular will, but where popular will is based on a faulty understanding, in substance or morality. The ease with which consent can be manufactured through the mass manipulation of value, is another reason citizens need to defend themselves against unjust laws. Either way, it is subjecting the wills of many to the tyranny of the few, and in both cases, the public has no standing to challenge the fairness of the law outside of the constitutional framework. A jury nullification amendment would act as a safeguard against unjust laws.
Just Law Amendment Preliminary Text:
Any person accused of a crime has the right to inform a jury of the jury’s power to nullify law on the basis of net liberty.
What the amendment does is allows the defendant to first inform the jury that they have the power to nullify the law, as John Jay stated in 1794, “to decide facts and law”, (2) but limits the arguments against the law to a basis of net liberty, where a law can only be thought of as being unjust if the law can be shown to impose more imposition than it prevents. In this, law is not reduced to the subjective sense of justice that may vary among the population, but an objective fool proof standard of determining the merit of a law.
2: Liberty and Law, 01/18/2018, “Juries Judge the Law As Well” by Devin Watkins https://www.lawliberty.org/2018/01/18/juries-judge-the-law-as-well/
Beyond liberating the population from potentially unjust laws they did not consent to or did not have oversight of, there are other potential benefits from the Just Law Amendment. Mainly in understanding true public opinion regarding laws. If a defendant charged with a crime is found not guilty due to nullification 70 or 80% of the time such charges go to trial, clearly it is in the interest of the state to no longer prosecute the crime, or for the state to change the law. It has the potential to save money in the cost of prosecution as well as the time and energy to prosecute charges for crimes the public has rejected as being unjust.
This is one of the few situations where the solution has to be geared towards the result rather than eliminatng the cause that produces the result. We cannot eliminate the cause which is a republican form of government, because a republican form of government is the most efficient form of government. Delegating government responsibilities to a small portion of the citzenry allows the citizenry to focus on their personal affairs and contrabution to the market which leads to prosperity and individual opportunity. Naturally, those people who are delegated the responsibility to govern will be expected to apply public resources and create law in the interest of the public.
Candidates are selected by money on boths sides, meaning no matter who is elected government functions to advance the interests of wealth and industry. This is by design, but it is difficult to imagine a way where the delegation of government is not corrupted by money. I accept this mode of function as a product not only of a market based economy, but as a product of market based behavior. The economy is but an extension of how human beings behave, where the value of interaction is a market where the currency is feelings instead of money. I put forth solutions to allow participation by the general public in a market based legislative process through Centers for Economic Planning, as well as an idea to increase the size of the congress to decrease the ability of money to persuade public opinion concerning candidate selection. I believe in the first idea much more than I do the second. The point being is the Just Law Amendment protects a citzen from laws that do not serve the interest of the public, which may come into being no matter how representative congress and the president is of public interest.