Tagged: moon landing

Law 14: The People in Arms

The People in Arms

(Completes the section Second Amendment of Law 13.)

When one reads in the Second Amendment that militias are necessary to a free state, these are strong words and one cannot read it as “a standing army is necessary to a free state,” especially because the Constitution also has measures about the army (Article I, Section 8, clause 12) and the amendment does not mention the army but militias.

In fact one should read the Amendment thus: “Militias are necessary to a free state, even more so when there is a standing army in the state.”

In other words, in “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state” (letter of the amendment) the emphasis is on “necessary to a free state” rather than on “necessary to the security,” because if the emphasis were on the latter, then yes the army and the state-controlled police forces may be enough and there would be no need of militias, but the Framers intended to emphasize the role of militias as against a standing army, because standing armies were the arm of absolutism in Europe and they wanted to make a free country.

ii

As the second amendment talks about militias and not the army, I do not understand it when a statute (Dick Act, National Defense Act…) calls the military reserve a militia, because the military reserve is the army and obviously the second amendment isn’t about the army (which is named elsewhere in the Constitution but not in the second amendment). This is a statutory misnomer with huge consequences because lots of people look askance at citizen militias, which are the true second amendment militias contrary to the national guard or any other military reserve corps, which are the army_period.

An army may be “necessary” to the “security” of a “state” but according to the second amendment it is not “necessary to the security of a free state,” that is to say, again, the emphasis is on “free.” Without militias a free state would lack something necessary. And as it would not lack security if a standing army can provide it, it must be that said state would lack first and foremost being a free state.

And it should be clear by now that the militias of the amendment are not and cannot be the army nor any reserve corps of the army, however muddled the situation is made by the statutes.

iii

The idea of a “collective right within the context of a militia,” which was cogently discarded by the Supreme Court, is, I believe, partaken by many of those who also look askance at citizen militias. Not only can they not accept an individual right to bear arms but also and perhaps even less can they accept a militia except in the muddled sense of a military reserve.

In fact they read the Second Amendment in light of the militia statutes (rather than the statutes in light of the amendment) and thus read it as meaning “an army being necessary to the security etc.”

But this is completely nuts on two grounds (beside all the already said).

1/ If the amendment were about the army, it would literaly name the annex (the reserve) rather than the main body as “necessary to the security” of the state. It would stress the necessity of the annex without even mentioning that of the main body, which is absurd.

2/ If the amendment were about the army, the amendment would be a big non sequitur: “An army being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The Framers would have found it necessary to secure a right to bear arms because the state needs an army, but such a reasoning would be a puzzle to everybody, and indeed as about all countries in the world, even sh*thole countries, have standing armies and yet most of them deny their citizens the right to bear arms, the idea that a standing army necessitates a citizens’ right to bear arms is something unheard of, and it would have been great had the Framers explained their idea a little bit. Obviously it’s absurd and the Framers of the second amendment are just not talking of the army.

One simply cannot read the amendment in light of the statutes, and this makes the statutes’ constitutionality dubious.

I also object to the organized vs unorganized typology because not only does it derive from said statutes (“organized” militias are organized by legislative acts) but also because the amendment talks of “well regulated” militias and the typology gives the impression that “unorganized” militias must be outside the scope of “well regulated” militias, which is probably what most if not all half-informed Americans (those among Americans who are half-informed) think.

iv

Oddly, if you read the opinions of the Justices of the Supreme Court (or their summaries), you’ll find that my viewpoint is closer to that of dissenting Justice Stevens than to the majority opinion by Justice Scalia. Although I had read the summary before, I wasn’t conscious of this while writing the previous lines. Here is J. Stevens’s dissenting opinion in J.R. Vile’s words:

“The primary purpose of the Second Amendment was to underscore the Founders’s fear of standing armies. The amendment makes no mention of hunting or self-defense. … J. Stevens argues that the Second Amendment was designed to prevent Congress from disarming state militias: ‘When each word in the text is given full effect, the Amendment is most naturally read to secure to the people a right to use and possess arms in conjunction with service in a well-regulated militia.’ The term bear arms was an idiom designed to refer to those who served in militias; to keep arms further described ‘the requirement that militia members store their arms at their homes, ready to be used for service when necessary.’”

While I entirely agree with most of this, the only conclusion I find to suit it is that the Court was right to decide as it did and I hardly understand how this opinion can be a dissent.

The Founders’ fear of standing armies is the crux, what does Justice Stevens make of it? The U.S. has a standing army now, so what then? Is everything LOST and we should abide by a reality contrary to the will of the Founders while everything we keep saying in the legal domain is informed by the Constitution they framed? What absurdity is this? Clearly the Founders’ vision was that of a people in arms rather than standing armies, the arm of absolutism in Europe and of Empires elsewhere. They knew their history books and the stories of great nations plagued by praetorian intrigues. Yet, probably out of pragmatism, they also made room for an army, but if the nation were to create such an army, then the Constitution documents that it is a necessary evil–not unlike the government itself, in fact, and in the same way that that necessary evil that is the government is made as innocuous as possible by checks and balances, so must a standing army be dealt with, and the checks and balances here are the people in arms, the militias.

This was the starting point for all I wrote, which, to sum it up, is that an individual right to bear arms is enclosed in the prefatory clause about militias as the premise whence the right follows by necessity (provided one does not limit one’s understanding of militias to that of later, likely unconstitutional statutes).

To rephrase it, in my opinion you can’t have a collective right without an individual right. I believe in grassroots militias, bottom-up, so individuals must be armed if they want to form or join a militia. It’s not the governor or the Pentagon calls them and arm them, which is probably Stevens’s idea of militia, but I think he’s right that the amendment underscores the Founders’ fear of standing armies, due to which fear–a fear not at all irrational!–they wanted the people armed. The people must be armed and that means individuals must be armed.

Now when Scalia says (in the commentator’s words) “The Second Amendment was developed in reaction to fears that the government would disarm the people, and was patterned on state provisions that were designed to protect individual rights,” this is right also and I don’t see any contradiction between the two quotes because obviously if the government intended to disarm the people it would be because in the government’s idea a standing army would empty out a right to bear arms. A standing army makes militias useless (except as an annex or as local battalions of the army) so it makes the right to bear arms useless. But the Framers said–this is the very letter of the Constitution–that militias independent from the army are necessary even if the Union were to create a standing, permanent, professional army.

Then, when one reads (majority decision) “The Amendment is divided into a prefatory clause and an operative clause. There must be a link between the two, but ‘apart from that clarifying function, a prefatory clause does not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause’,” it smacks of taking liberties with the letter, which I disagree with in constitutional analysis (and Scalia has often blamed others for taking liberties). In my eyes there was no need to resort to such intricacies: the prefatory clause is the premise, the operative clause is the consequence, and the consequence is an individual right.

v

I wouldn’t insist too much on the English heritage, as today “In the United Kingdom, access by the general public to firearms is subject to some of the strictest control measures in the world” (first sentence of Wikipedia page Firearms Regulation in the U.K.), which means the U.S. would be more faithful to the heritage than the Britons themselves, and this after breaking with them. There is no justification to this: Why would or should the Americans be more faithful to the English heritage than the English?

Then Scalia goes on talking about the “pre-existing right,” which he calls a “‘natural right’ that encompassed that of protecting oneself against ‘both public and private violence’.” The majority in McDonald v. Chicago (2010) said Heller “recognized self-defense to be a basic right that applied to handguns.” To the best of my knowledge there is no country in the world where the laws say you must accept that someone kills you without trying to defend yourself, namely, a country that does not acknowledge exculpatory circumstances for homicide. This being said, the U.S. is rather unique with its constitutional right to bear arms. As a matter of fact, in other countries too you’ve got the right to use a gun in self-defense, only it turns out you don’t have a gun, because you had to ask for a license, justify your demand etc, so arguably, yes, these countries make fun of the basic right that is self-defense.

If the letter of the second amendment stresses, as I claim, defense against “public violence” rather than against “private violence,” (these are Scalia’s words) this is only out of conciseness: there was no need to expatiate on an individual right to self-defense because it is, if you like, a “natural right” (Scalia again) and it goes without saying that, when, a militia being necessary, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, individuals may use in self-defense the weapons they have the right to keep and bear.

The reference by Scalia to “public (vs private) violence” is interesting. What is it he has in mind? Is it not the possible use of the standing army against the citizenry? If this is so, then obviously the making of militias a something inside the army, dependent on the same organs, is an obstacle to the militias playing any role against public violence. So possibly Scalia has the same conception as that laid down here by me, but on the other hand I also have doubts about it: I wonder whether, like others, he might not think that this talking about militias in the Constitution is antiquated and irrelevant in the times we’re living.

That there be antiquated clauses in the Constitution is perhaps admissible, but that there be antiquated clauses in crucial matters is strictly impossible.

*

Immunity For Botch

South v. Maryland (1855) and the public duty doctrine say “there is no tort liability to an injured party resulting from the non-malicious failure of a law enforcement officer to enforce the law,” but also “It is a public duty for neglect of which an officer is amenable to the public, and punishable by indictment only.” Thus the absence of tort liability does not rule out all form of responsibility or I’m missing something.

You can charge an officer for failure to protect if you are feeling foolish, but the case will almost certainly get rejected by the judge, and even if it isn’t the appeal will side with the officer.I don’t think threats of a frivolous indictment by an overzealous prosecutor can be interpreted as a duty for an officer to endanger their life. It is just legal politics and rhetoric designed to win the court of public opinion (the mob). (MrM)

ii

For the sake of learning, I quote the definitions:

Public duty rule: a doctrine in tort law: a government entity (as a state or municipality) cannot be held liable for the injuries of an individual resulting from a public officer’s or employee’s breach of a duty owed to the public as a whole as distinguished from a duty owed to the particular individual called also public duty rule. See also special duty doctrine.

Special duty doctrine: an exception to the public duty doctrine that imposes liability for injury on a government entity when there is a special duty owed to the plaintiff but not to the public at large called also special duty exception. NOTE: The special duty doctrine applies when the duty owed to the plaintiff arises by statute or when the plaintiff has justifiably come to rely on the government’s assumption of that duty.” (findlaw)

iii

Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzalez (2005) is a confirmation of DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services (1989). It may be worth stressing that both involve children being victims of their father’s violence, so these rulings may be found to run into the parens patriae doctrine, actually.

Parens patriae “refers to the public policy power of the state to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian, or informal caretaker, and to act as the parent of any child, individual or animal who is in need of protection. For example, some children, incapacitated individuals, and disabled individuals lack parents who are able and willing to render adequate care, thus requiring state intervention.”

You’ll note the phrasing “requiring state intervention.” The conclusion “We are all responsible for our own personal safety, whether we like it or not” (Barnes Law) sounds odd when applied to the situation of a little child vis-à-vis his father, especially when the state knows the child’s helplessness, so much so that it adopted a parens patriae doctrine.

So I can’t agree with DeShaney v. Winnebago Social Services.

The mother was let down by the social services. In the books I find “this clause [the due process clause] was designed ‘to protect the people from the State, not to ensure that the State protected them from each other.’” This is not true as far as the parens patriae doctrine and the situation of a helpless child is concerned, but I fear to understand that it is no constitutional guarantee and instead a castle in the air. People demanded foster homes, same as they demanded a 911 line for help, and states provided the services, as it was not found unconstitutional, but only for the people to be told then that whether the services are provided in a satisfactory or botched fashion is none of the courts’ business. In other words, the Supreme Court is telling people they rely on the state at their own risk, and in reality they cannot rely on it at all.

“The fact that the state at times took temporary custody of Joshua [DeShaney] did not make the state his personal guardian after it released him.” No but the fact that it released him to an abusive father several times shows a clear misunderstanding of the situation, all the while the mother was thinking the child was in good, prudent hands.

“If the state has a financial obligation to Joshua, it must be democratically ascertained through protection of state tort (personal injury) law rather than through the due process clause.” Not true with regard to the public duty doctrine. Thus, while South v. Maryland barred a tort suit leaving indictment open, DeShaney v. Winnebago Social Services bars a due process clause suit claiming to leave open a tort suit that is not open. Of course in both cases the courts felt the need to leave some recourse open, as otherwise the notion arises of duty without responsibility, which is, to say the least, hard to chew.

iv

“Justice Sonia Sotomayor has noted a “disturbing trend” of siding with police officers using excessive force with qualified immunity, describing it as “sanctioning a ‘shoot first, think later’ approach to policing.” She stated: “We have not hesitated to summarily reverse courts for wrongly denying officers the protection of qualified immunity in cases involving the use of force…But we rarely intervene where courts wrongly afford officers the benefit of qualified immunity in these same cases.”” (Wikipedia page Qualified Immunity)

This is the topic of qualified immunity, with which I wish I were more familiar because I guess that’s part of what is knowing one’s rights…

*

THE NASA Psychic

How many Americans know Apollo was a psychic program?

“Jonsson is most notable for his long-distance telepathy experiment during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. Four psychics on earth were chosen to receive telepathic signals from astronaut Edgar Mitchell in space.” (Wikipedia page Olof Jonsson)

Are we supposed then, according to NASA, a federal agency, to believe in extrasensory perception (ESP)? Obviously yes because one does not fund a “long-distance telepathy experiment” if one does not believe in short-distance telepathy. Think of it: a federal agency funding a long-distance telepathy experiment between space and the earth while it was not convinced that telepathy occurs here on earth. Does it make any sense?

Likewise, the fact that the experiment was, as the Wikipedia page adds, a “complete failure” cannot by itself disprove ESP but only, if anything, “long-distance” ESP. Therefore, without an express statement to the contrary by NASA, it must be said to endorse ESP.

NASA picture of Apollo 14 manned moon landing, with the same kind of lunar breeze effect flag as in 1969 (see Law 12).

*

Canada: Conservatives’ attempts to protect platform users’ speech online is blocked. A bad result for free speech in Canada.

Let’s face it: Canada never was a free-speech country. U.S. envoys never pressed it to become one and how would they when their bosses at home had rather have the same anti-free speech policy at home too? I told you already, for that it takes independent judges tenured for life. Among politicians it’s always the opposition that defends free speech, but when it gets to governement there’s no more of that bullsh*t, it’s censorship bills one after the other, all of them. Prove me wrong.

*

Given the basic fact that Twitter and Facebook censor all opponents of the Democratic Party, this censorship is state action in all states and localities governed by Democrats, and the platforms are amenable to courts for abridgment of First Amendment rights by the inhabitants of these states and localities. The ideological nexus is obvious. The U.S. federal government being currently under a president of the Democratic Party, these platforms’ censorship is now state action in all the territory of the Union.

*

The Botched Law of Racially Restrictive Covenants

In what is perhaps an unprecedented instance in the history of American legislation, a statute, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, was needed twenty years after the Supreme Court intended the same as the Act, in its notorious decision Shelley v. Kraemer of 1948 which eviscerated the enforcement by courts of private restrictive covenants barring blacks from buying real estate.

In the 6-0 decision Chief Justice Vinson explained that “restrictive covenants drawn up by private individuals do not in themselves violate the Fourteenth Amendment. As long as they are completely private and voluntary, they are within the law. Here, however, there was more. Through their courts, the states aided in the enforcement of the covenants. Indeed, if it were not for the courts, the purpose of the agreements would not be fulfilled.” (Vile, 2018)

Thus we were to learn, en creux, from the Supreme Court that covenants whose purpose would not be fulfilled by courts are a legal object–a legal UFO to this very day. Commentator Vile adds, for those who could not believe what they had just been reading: “Shelley dit not invalidate private restrictive covenants but only state enforcement.” State enforcement rings a bell to those familiar with constitutional law: one reads state action. That judicial action is state action is perhaps not to be denied but then, as courts, one or the other, are competent about everything, the decision means that state action is everywhere (and everybody could be sued for “discrimination”: you could be sued for failing to invite blacks at your wedding, for instance)–and at the same time whites who refused to sell estate to blacks through restrictive covenants would maintain the practice undisturbed, as long, that is, as blacks did not trick them and acquired the estate anyway, or perhaps as long as black squatters did not occupy the premises, and if a black (or, for that matter, any) squatter occupied a house belonging to a white owner to which house a restrictive covenant was attached, perhaps the owner had no legal recourse against the squatter?

Such niceties and others resulting from the unanimous decision were so strange that eventually the legislator, twenty years later, passed the Fair Housing Act that prohibits racially restrictive covenants.

To this day no court dared link state action to the possibility of judicial litigation again, Shelley was dead on arrival, and discriminatory private ventures that are not specifically covered by antidiscrimination legislative acts are permissible. A restaurant can (absent a state or local statute to the contrary) cater to whites only, for instance, in the United States of America, that is, since other countries have bogus notions of freedom.

ii

But restrictive covenants run with the land: “Just because these old covenants are now unenforceable, they never simply disappeared. Many continue to be passed on from owner to owner through property deeds to this day, and though real estate professionals and lawmakers alike have made efforts toward having them removed, bureaucratic red tape and legal expenses often hinder progress. Some argue that it would be too cost-prohibitive to remove the racist language from every real estate deed in the country today.” (Homelight, Sep 14, 2020)

To have made covenants which pre-existed the Fair Housing Act unenforceable was ex post facto lawmaking: “An ex post facto law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status) of actions that were committed, or relationships that existed, before the enactment of the law.”

Ex post facto laws are prohibited by the American Constitution (clause 3 of Article I, Section 9). In its purity the principle holds in criminal law only but such a construction may be argued to be unconstitutional: “Thomas Jefferson described them [ex post facto laws] as ‘equally unjust in civil as in criminal cases.’ Over the years, however, when deciding ex post facto cases, the United States Supreme Court has referred repeatedly to its ruling in Calder v. Bull, in which Justice Samuel Chase held that the prohibition applied only to criminal matters, not civil matters.” (Wikipedia) Like Jefferson I see no reason why the principle should be limited to criminal law, because 1/ the letter of the Constitution makes no such distinction as that introduced by Justice Chase (the clause reads: “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed” and 2/ even if ignoring the principle must be particularly dramatic in criminal law such neglect is not benign either in the other legal domains.

*

Anti-BDS Laws

Georgia anti-BDS law is unconstitutional: “A federal court ruled in favor of journalist Abby Martin, who was barred from speaking at Georgia Southern University after she refused to pledge she would not boycott Israel.” (shadowproof, May 24, 2021)

It’s only the fifth or sixth anti-BDS law that is declared unconstitutional by a U.S. federal court, there remain a dozen ones in other states. Apparently none of the humiliated states dare appeal the evisceration of their shameful bills to the Supreme Court?

There is that politician, Rubio, I don’t know what he’s saying about all this but he wanted a federal anti-BDS bill, the same as those. And how did he “sell” it? By exposing his total, complete and irremediable lack of constitutional knowledge. He said: What? (¿Cómo?) BDS supporters could boycott Israel but the government couldn’t boycott BDS supporters? I believe he was convinced, while tweeting this, he had found the ultimate ironclad argument to the opponents of his bill. He’s got no clue, he doesn’t know that a state boycott (by any government, federal, state or local) is state action against which boycott is protected as free speech, whereas BDS is a grassroots boycott protected by the First Amendment. Even if both were called boycotts, one infringes on free speech and the other is free speech. That’s basic constitutional law.

*

Political Police

I’m reading “the FBI just put X and Y (movements) on the same threat level as ISIS.” Is this leaked information? Is it a leak (1) or is it state intimidation against legally constituted associations (2)? If (2), how, besides, is this not libelous? There can be no governmental immunity when a police bureau slanders and libels law-abiding citizens.

*

Neoconservatism: Jacobinism or Napoleonism?

According to Claes G. Ryn (America the Virtuous: The Crisis of Democracy and the Quest for Empire, 2003), the “neoconservative” influence on the American right is turning it into a new form of Jacobinism (doctrine of the French Revolution), and I’m not sure whether one should not call it Napoleonism instead, but both, blended in the doctrine of the current French state, are based on centralization, bureaucracy, flawed separation of powers (the judicial is controled by the executive), militarism (military parade on National Day: Trump wanted the same for July 4!), police state, no free speech…

Law 12: The Lunar Breeze Effect Flag

The Lunar Breeze Effect Flag

For full understanding of the following, read section The Latest on Wikipedia’s Moon Landing Hoax Debunking in Law 10.

“Neil, it’s cool you went on the Moon but… a good artistic picture is what matters.”

“One that ties the room together.”

So you take the French Wikipedia version for granted. Yet the English Wikipedia version is different: “The flag was rippled because it had been folded during storage – the ripples could be mistaken for movement in a still photo.” Here there is no word about an intention to tie the room together, the ripples are accidental, they are folds due to storage which turn out to make the flag look as if it were fluttering in the wind.

As if the authors of the English Wikipedia page dared not confess what my interlocutor endorses wholeheartedly. As if, namely, they doubted it was judicious to fake a flag fluttering in the wind in a picture shot on the moon. As if they dared not confess it because of the issue involved in taking people for idiots.

NASA Picture With Lunar Breeze Effect Flag
Chinese Flag Without Breeze Effect (Source: BBC Dec 4, 2020 “China becomes second nation to plant flag on the Moon”)

*

Crack Hills Have Eyes 2

See Law 11.

Politicians make laws (lawmaker=the legislative power) and they also enforce laws as executive power (from which police take their orders).

What my post denounced about Crack Hill is that politicians qua executive power do not enforce the law politicians vote qua legislative power. That is, as taking crack is a criminal offence, politicians qua executive are taking a very light view of the law when they enforce it by distributing pipes and paying hotel rooms to criminals. If this is their idea of the issue, then they must take the initiative of a legislative debate to repeal the law and decriminalize crack consumption, and stop telling people they enforce the law by ignoring it.

This is a huge problem, because when executive officials do not want to enforce the law, they don’t bother to have it repealed, they just instruct the services (police etc) to ignore it, or to do as they please.

A crackhead in France may live in a free hotel room with new pipes every Thursday or behind bars, it all depends on the police’s mood.

There’s no rule of law anymore.

ii

Government protectionism of the black market.

Yes, government and police protectionism of the black market, since without police forces the government could do nothing, so the police are always responsible (if only by abiding) whereas one may imagine cases where only police are responsible while the executive authorities know nothing of what is going on.

Now, as my interlocutor compared enforcement of Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act (Prohibition) with the contemporary war on drugs, let me add the following. The same politicians who in France are implementing the briliant crack plan I have just been talking of, eschewing enforcement of national drug laws, are eager to point at the figures of prison inmates in the U.S. (highest rate of prison inmates per inhabitant in the world, so they say) as a reason why they ought not to follow the same path. In several other, perhaps most European countries, we hear the same discourse.

But these fellows dare not repeal their own national drug laws, and the result of this slighting of the law is that these countries are not rule of law countries anymore. The prison inmates figures are the price the United States are paying for upholding the rule of law. God Bless America. In Europe they are leaving everything at the discretion of the bureaucracy. Whether one will be punished for consuming drugs depends not on the law (which still says they must be punished) but on how they were perceived at some point by some guy in the bureaucracy, some cop, who will have them prosecuted in spite of the unwritten rule of bureaucracy saying that those poor devils should be left alone.

The poor devil who did not please the cop will be prosecuted, a judge will hear him and, say we are in France, a country of written law, the judge, although he has heard of the bureaucratic rule, will open the legal code at the page where the article laying down the penalties for consuming drugs is, and he will condemn the poor devil. (Compared to the functionarial nonentity that a French judge is, American judges are intellectuals.)

This is what European politicians are so proud of – the fact that no one knows what to expect. They revel in a world of arbitrariness.

*

Biden supports suppressing online “misinformation,” press secretary says.

Was it on his electoral platform or does he just add it now as an extra?

*

Justin Trudeau dismisses critics of internet censorship bill as “tin foil hats.”

The same guy explained that derogatory speech is the same as shouting fire in a crowded theater – the classic example in SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) case law that would serve to send his bill to the garbage can.

*

“Free speech” lawyer argues “lying” should be an impeachable offense.

The levels of nincompoopery in academia (“law professor at George Washington University”) are staggering. To think that these fellows are comfortable talking about truth and lies as they do… they really have got no clue. Let me take an example. Husband and wife want to divorce because it turns out they don’t see things the same way. One issue to settle is who will keep the kids. Why is it an issue? Because husband and wife both want to raise the kids according to his or her own views and ideas, according to how he or she sees things. Will you ask a law professor at George Washington University to tell the judge whose ideas are truths and whose are untruths, calling the latter lies, before taking a decision? Nonsense. If an amicus curiae talked like that (within an acceptable margin in the frame of the society – as expressing some ideas, like belief in witchcraft or alien abductions, would probably be detrimental in the case to the party expressing these ideas) he would be dismissed at once, as trying to impose his or her own set of preconceived ideas.

ii

What I wrote may sound confusing, at least for two kinds of people in America. Some will remember that experts in American courts are experts of the parties, who try to sustain their party’s position, whereas I seem to be talking of experts of the courts, which exist in civil law (as opposed to common law) countries, experts who had rather remain as neutral as possible in order not to fall into disrepute.

Others will remember that in America jury trial is the rule in civil trials and I seem to omit the fact completely. In fact, divorce trials by jury are rare even in the U.S.:

« Only a few states allow for any type of jury trial in a divorce case.  Even then, those states limit the issues that can go before a jury. For example, Texas, which has the most liberal rules concerning jury trials in divorce cases, is the only state that allows juries to decide which parent gets custody of the children and where the children will live. » (rightlawyers.com)

Unless most divorces occur in Texas, the majority of divorced American parents must abide by a decision on who is to keep the children which was not taken by a jury.

Still, my point was, if an expert smugly told the judge, like some professor of George Washington University, that the kids cannot be in custody of the father, for instance, because he voted for Trump and Trump is a liar so you cannot rely on such a one to take care of kids, she would be laughed at or I do not know my judge. Yet she writes books like that, which tells you what a tyrant she must be in her classroom even if people shrug shoulders at her in most other circumstances.

Now, judges are probably more of an official’s profile than the majority of people, so the fact that divorce trials are not decided by juries is also more likely to be detrimental to parents who hold certain ideas, even not so fringe as belief in alien abductions. I should think a parent known to be a Gab user, for instance, is likely to lose his kids in a divorce court when a divorce is filed. Correct me if I’m wrong.

*

UK government accused of promoting a “nanny state” with proposed online ban on high calorie food ads.

Is commercial speech speech or rather the polluting of speech? Commercial speech wasn’t protected in the US before the 1970s (Virginia State Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, 1976). This is the kind of view that makes authoritarian regimes comfortable with their speech suppression systems, as they can say to their people: See, we’re protecting you and your free thinking from the relentless, nauseating pushing by unthinking business whose sole aim is profit.

In any case, while the US Supreme Court has found that commercial speech is speech, it does not grant it the same level of protection as non-commercial speech, so the UK policy here described could be implemented in the states too within the law.

*

Bonkers About Lèse-Majesté

Prince Harry complains about online “misinformation” calls First Amendment “bonkers.”

Prince Harry: “I’ve got so much I want to say about the First Amendment; I still don’t understand it, but it is bonkers.”

No surprise: “In 2013, the Ministry of Justice admitted that the Treason Felony Act 1848 had accidentally been ditched. The 165-year-old law threatens anyone calling for the abolition of the monarchy with life imprisonment.” (The Sun, Oct 20, 2016)

Information about lese-majeste legislation in UK is deceptive: they make all sorts of claims, so much so that nobody can know what the legal situation is. (They call that rule of law?)

On Wikipedia page Lèse-majesté, for UK they write: “The Treason Felony Act of 1848 makes it an offence to advocate for the abolition of the monarchy. Such advocation is punishable by up to life imprisonment under the Act. Though still in the statute book, the law is no longer enforced.”

Yet the source for that is a Dec 2013 paper by The Guardian, “Calling for abolition of monarchy is still illegal, UK justice ministry admits,” with subtitle “Department wrongly announced that section of law threatening people with life imprisonment had been repealed.”

The government spreads misinformation on the issue. That the law be no longer enforced does not mean it will not be enforced in case someone violates it (they make it an entirely discretionary decision of prosecuting authorities), only it turns out nobody dares speak freely on the issue (except, probably, ‘accredited’ cartoonists trained in the art of sycophancy under the guise of joking, i.e. court jesters).

ii

As Harry has in his native country a history of blundering (google “Harry the Nazi”), I think it relevant to stress that his calling American First Amendment “bonkers” is not one more blunder according to British royalty’s etiquette but on the contrary full compliance with it.

The extraordinary sequence of the British government claiming lese-majeste laws void and then retracting, claiming to have repealed them and then denying, is the (one may say comical) confirmation that deep within these people see no wrong in punishing speech with life imprisonment.

The appalling statute, worse than the classic example of Thai monarchy (where offensive speech about the King is punishable with a maximum of 15 years imprisonment, compared to 3 years for the Sultan of Brunei), and whose status is at best uncertain, that is, of which nobody can say it is not part of British law any longer because British lawmakers won’t make such a declaration without denying it at once, is among other things what shapes Prince Harry’s animus.

iii

Now, that “Department wrongly announced” the repeal of the lese-majeste law is big lese-majeste, if you ask me, and should be punished with hanging because if they haven’t hanged people for a while it must be due to some misunderstanding.

*

None of Your Business

The US will join the “Christchurch Call” to eliminate extremist content online. (May 2021)

“New Zealand man jailed for 21 months for sharing Christchurch shooting video.” (BBC News, June 2019)

Making it a crime to share this video amounts to claiming that the government must be the only source of truth. The only source of truth will be at the same time the agency that restricts access to evidence.

Under a constitutional regime the government can make no claim to be an authority as to what the truth is. Hence, by restricting access to evidence it overrides its constitutional function and mocks constitutional liberties.

Here is how the government proceeds. You learn what happened in Christchurch and then the government tells you that, given what happened in Christchurch, they are going to carry out a set of policies that will curtail your fundamental liberties for the sake of peace and order. Then, when one citizen says “Okay, so let’s see what happened in Christchurch” and makes the video of the shooting available online, he’s punished with 21 months imprisonment for inciting violence (or whatever fallacy they used).

Thus, what happened in Christchurch is none of your business even though based on this particular event you are going to lose big in terms of freedom, or more simply you are going to lose your freedom. – What happened in Christchurch is the governement’s business and you have no right to ask for evidence. “The only source of truth will be at the same time the agency that restricts access to evidence.”

*

Axiom

Independent judges versus employees of the king. In the common law tradition, judges are fully independent. In the civil law tradition, judges are no more than employees of the king. They are strictly monitored by higher courts, which are in turn monitored in a remarkable extent by the central government.” (Gerrit De Geest, American Law: A Comparative Primer, 2020)

It should be stressed that this describes, as far as the civil law tradition is concerned, police states, because the state is entirely absorbed in the government. The axiom is therefore that civil law countries are police states.

ii

“the French, with their centuries-long tradition of presenting case law as pure interpretations of codified law.” (De Geest, 2020, p. 64)

Granting it is true of the judicial judge, it is not so with the administrative judge, which has originated much of the administrative law in France, whole parts of which are judge-made (« droit d’origine jurisprudentielle »). – The political cartel is fond of leaving to the judge all lawmaking that crushes individuals under the boot of the police state.

De Geest is excusable, however, from a common law viewpoint, for overlooking that the administrative judge is a judge at all: “Believe it or not, the Conseil d’État, that is, the French supreme court for administrative law, belongs to the executive branch, not the judicial branch!” p. 86)

It’s not about believing and joking but about what common law countries do to bring police states to reason.

*

“A plea bargain in a criminal case is the equivalent of a settlement in a civil case.” (Gerrit De Geest, American Law: A Comparative Primer, 2020, p. 70)

No. Plea bargaining is a modality of prosecution, not its eschewing. It has nothing to do with the debate on compulsory prosecution vs. principle of opportunity, and by the way De Geest wrongly associates compulsory prosecution with the civil law tradition; in major civil law countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the principle of opportunity obtains.