Tag Archives: Checks and Balance

St. Robert Bellarmine and the Declaration of Independence

Today is the feast day of St. Robert Bellarmine!

FOTM, therefore, is paying homage to this saint by re-publishing joandarc’s post from last year. :)

Today, September 17th, is the Feast Day of a most remarkable man, St. Robert Bellarmine.

He was born on October 4, 1542, in Montepulciano near Siena, Italy.  He had an excellent education, being schooled in the humanities, theology and philosophy, ordained a Jesuit priest on March 25, 1570.  He was a Professor of Theology at Louvain and was summoned to teach at the Roman College as the Chair of Apologetics.  He is affectionaly known as the Patron Saint of Catechists and Apologists, having approached with charity, reason and thorough analysis, the heresies of his day.  He was made a Cardinal on March 3, 1599 and appointed the Papal Theologian by Pope Clement VIII, and on March 18, 1602, he was appointed the Archbishop of Capua.  He composed varous books on spirituality, on the Church and the Mystical Body of Christ.  Pope Benedict XVI tells us that, “Since as a priest and bishop he was first and foremost a pastor of souls, he felt it was his duty to preach diligently.”  He gave hundreds of sermons.  Pope Benedict XVI further tells us that the “hallmark of Bellarmine’s spirituality is his vivid personal perception of God’s immense goodness.  This is why our Saint truly felt he was a beloved Son of God.  It was a source of great joy to him to pause in recollection, with serenity and simplicity, in prayer and contemplation of God.”

What is most important is that Bellarmine taught that we must center on our own pesonal conversion in order to reform our lives so that we are pleasing to God.

Rev. John C. Rager, S.T.D., stated to Professor David A. Schaff in defense of Bellarmine, that “the Congressional Library still possesses a copy of Patriarcha, a book which once stood on the library shelf of Thomas Jefferson.  Patriarcha, was written by Robert Filmer, the privage theologian of James I of England in defense of the Divine Right of Kings and principally in refutation to the Jesuit Cardinal Bellarmine’s political principles of popular sovereignty.”

Father Rager provides us some interesting parallels, clause for clause, of the American Declaration of Independence and Bellarmine’s statments, to-wit:

With regard to the equaity of men:

Declaration of Independence:  “All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

Bellarmine:  “All men are equal, not in wisdom or grace, but in the essence and nature of mankind” (De Laicis,” c.7).  “There is no reason why among equals one should rule rather than another.” (Ibid.)  “Let rulers remember that they preside over men who are of the same nature as they themselves” (De Officus Princ.” c.22).  “Political right is immediately from God and necessarily inherent in the nature of man” (De Laicia” c. 6, note 1).

With regard to the function of government:

Declaration of Independence:  “To secure these rights governments are instituted among men.”

Bellarmine:  “It is impossible for men to live together without someone to care for the common good.  Men must be governed by someone lest they be willing to perish” (De Laicia,” c.6).

With regard to the source of power:

Declaration of Independence:  “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Bellarmine:  “It depends upon the consent of the multitude to constitute over itself a king, consul, or other magistrate.  This power is, indeed, from God, but vested in a particular ruler by the counsel and election of men” (De Laicis, c. 6, notes 4 and 5).  “The people themselves immediately and directly hold the political power” (De Clericis, c. 7).

With regard to the right to change the government:

Declaration of Independence:  “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government. . .Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient reasons.”

Bellarmine:  “For legitimate reasons the people can change the government to an aristocracy or a democracy or vice versa” (De Laicis, c. 6).  “The people never transfers its power to a king so completely but that it reserves to itself the right of receiving back the power” (Recognitio de Laicis, c. 6).

And says Father Rager:

“If Jefferson ever read as many as four pages of this book, he read on the fourth page, the following:

Four times Bellarmine’s name is mentioned in bold print on this contents page of Patriarcha.  The first chapter of Patriarcha is again prefaced with its table of contents and Bellarmine’s name appears on it three times.  Then, if Jefferson read the first lines of the chapter he read this:

‘Since the time that school divinity began to flourish there hath been a common opinion maintained.  Mankind is naturally endowed and born with Freedom, and at liberty to choose what form of Government it please.  And that the Power which any one Man hath over others, was at first bestowed according to the discretion of the Multitude.’

If Jefferson ever read as many as four pages of this book, he read on the fourth page the following:

‘To make evidence the Grounds of this Question, about the Natural Liberty of Mankind, I will lay down some passages of Cardinal Bellarmine, that may best unfold the State of this controversie.  Secular or Civil Power is instituted by man; it is in the people, unless they bestow it on a Prince.  This Power is immediately in the whole Multitude, as in the subject of it; for the Power is in Divine Law, but the Divine Law hath given this Power to no particular man.  If the Positive Law be taken away, there is left no Reason why amongst a Multitude (who are Equal) one rather than another should bear Rule over the Rest.  It depends upon the Consent of the Multitude to ordain over themselves a King, Counsel, or other Magistrates; and if there be a lawful cause the multitude may change the Kingdom into an Aristocracy or Democracy.  Thus, far, Bellarmine, in which passages are coprised the strength of all that I have read or heard produced for the Natural Liberty of the Subject.’ “

And Father Rager asks, “Would not Jefferson, who was seeking a formulation of “the natural liberties of the subject,” be attracted to read and re-read this quotation from Bellarmine which “comprised the strength of all that had ever been produced for the natural liberty of the subject?”  And does not the American Declaration reflect strikingly this very passage of Bellarmine quoted by Filmer and lying open before the eyes of Jefferson?”

We will never actually be able to confirm or deny if Jefferson ever read the original works of St. Robert Bellarmine.  However, in the Library of Princeton University there was, according to Father Rager, “a copy of Cardinal Bellarmine’s works in the days of Jefferson.  James Madison, a member of the committee which drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights was a graduate of Princeton in 1771 and certainly had access to Bellarmine’s works.”

Pope Benedict XVI tells us that Bellarmine “died in Rome on 17 September 1621.  Pope Pius XI beatified him in 1923, canonized him in 1930 and proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1931.”

One cannot help but find noteworthy the similarities in thought as set out above.  Happy Feast Day to you, Dear St. Robert Bellarmine!  I implore you to interecede for the people of America before the throne of the Triune God to help our country be rid of its present tyranny, of its present war on people of faith lodged by this administration, of its present war on the culture of life where millions and millions of innocent children have lost their lives to legalized abortion on demand.  We need your help Great Saint!

Sources:

General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI, February 23, 2011, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Vatican website.

Catholic Sources and the Declaration of Independence, Rev. John C. Rager, S.T.D., CERC Home website.

~Joan

See our other posts on saints and angels by going to that page. Click here!

~Eowyn

Delaware leads nationwide move to strip county sheriffs of power

“If the sheriffs lose their arrest ability then Delaware will be a de facto police state.” -Delaware Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher

Ever wary of tyranny, America’s Founding Fathers took pains to design a political system with many mechanisms to check and balance government power. Those mechanisms include:

  • Dividing government into three co-equal branches (separation of powers);
  • A Constitution that specifies the People as the source of government power, as well as defines and delimits that power;
  • Amendments to the Constitution spelling out the People’s rights and liberties (Bill of Rights) — rights that are by birth (natural rights), instead of conferred by man;
  • Federalism: dividing, decentralizing, and diffusing government power among central (national government in Washington, D.C.) and regional units (the state governments).

sheriff_joeThe fearless Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

The county sheriff plays an important role in American federalism.

According to Wikipedia, the U.S. sheriff is a county official and is typically the top law enforcement officer of a county. Historically, the sheriff was also commander of the militia in that county. Distinctive to law enforcement in the United States, sheriffs are usually elected. Of the 50 U.S. states, 48 have sheriffs. The two that do not are Alaska (which has no counties), and Connecticut (which has no county governments and has state marshals instead of sheriffs).

Most sheriff’s offices have a law enforcement role, and their basic function dates back to the origins of the title in feudal England. Although the authority of the sheriff varies from state to state, a sheriff or his deputies (in all states except Delaware, where the sheriff’s defined role is going through arbitration) has the power to make arrests within his or her own jurisdiction. Many sheriff’s offices also perform other functions such as traffic control and enforcement, accident investigations, and maintenance and transportation of prisoners.

In fact, the office of sheriff is older than the United States, predating the official founding of the U.S.A. by more than a century. As an example, Delaware’s first sheriff took office in 1669 — 107 years before the Declaration of Independence!

In their role as their counties’ chief law enforcement officer, sheriffs answer only to the U. S. Constitution, not to Washington, D.C. That is why liberty-loving Americans, fearful of the growing power of the federal government, look to the sheriffs as a check. Indeed, on the matter of the Obama regime’s gun control and gun ban, more and more county sheriffs are saying “no.”

It should come as no surprise then that the forces of tyranny mean to curtail the powers of the county sheriff, if not abolish the institution altogether. In that nefarious effort, the State of Delaware is leading the way.

In April 2012, Pat Shannan of American Free Press first alerted us to the machinations of Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of VPOS Joe Biden.

Although Delaware’s State Constitution stipulates that the office of the sheriff is a constitutionally created position and sheriffs “shall be conservators of the peace within the counties . . . in which they reside,” Biden sent out mandates to commissioners informing them that their sheriffs no longer have arrest powers. In an opinion released February 24, 2012, State Solicitor L.W. Lewis said that neither the state nor the common law grants arrest powers to the county sheriffs.

Delaware Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher

Delaware Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher

The move to neuter Delaware’s county sheriffs actually began earlier, before Beau Biden became the state’s attorney general. Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher told American Free Press that as far back as 2000, he had noticed a reduction in funding and the chipping away of powers of the office of sheriff. Now, “my deputies and I have been relieved of all arrest powers and can’t even make a traffic stop. Delaware has only three counties. . . The other two sheriffs . . . will not stand up with me”.

As reported by Jack Minor for WND, Democrats in Delaware’s state legislature then sought to legalize Biden’s move with HB 290, a bill to redefine the role of sheriffs: “‘Police officer’ as used in this code shall not include sheriffs and sheriff deputies,” and it “is the intent of the General Assembly to specifically state the sheriffs and their deputies do not have any arrest authority.”

HB 290 redefined the role of sheriffs to where they can serve papers and process administrative work but have no hand in actual law enforcement. Supporters of the legislation said law enforcement authority belongs in the hands of the state police and city police who, unlike the sheriff, are not elected.

Although HB 290 died a quick death when Rep. Danny Short, a Republican who had sponsored the bill, tabled the bill after he realized its true purpose, Democrats introduced a replacement bill.

On May 3, 2012, House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, a Democrat,  introduced HB 325, which is virtually identical to HB 290, in an apparent attempt to get around Short’s tabling of his bill. As described on the State of Delaware’s website:

“This bill makes the Delaware law clear that the county sheriffs and their deputies do not have arrest authority. Historically the sheriffs and deputies have not exercised arrest authority and the Attorney General’s office has given an opinion that the sheriff’s “power to arrest is no greater than that shared by any citizen.”

Sheriff Christopher said he suspects that Schwartzkopf has been one of the key figures behind the entire legislative process to strip the sheriff’s office of their constitutional power: “He wants to abolish the office of sheriff in Delaware. While he issued a statement saying he isn’t interested in getting rid of the sheriff the truth is he wants to neuter us so the office is under his authority rather than the people who elected us.”

Christopher said if the sheriffs lose their arrest ability then Delaware will be a de facto police state.

On May 10, 2012, Delaware’s House of Representatives passed HB 325 by an overwhelming 36-2 majority. On June 14, 2012, the state Senate passed HB 325 by a 12-3 majority.

On June 19, 2012, Governor Jack A Markell, a Democrat, signed HB 325 into law. (Source: delaware.gov)

See also my friend Mark McGrew’s two-part series:

H/t FOTM’s Tina

~Eowyn

Holder responds to 5th Court of Appeals: Obama screwed up

In order to better protect and secure the rights and liberties of the people, our brilliant Founding Fathers designed a government of separated powers.

Government power would be divided and dispersed among three branches — the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial — each with its separate charges and functions. Our Founders envisioned the result of the Separation of Powers would be Checks and Balance of government.

The head of the Judicial Branch of government is the Supreme Court. Unlike the Executive Branch (the White House, the Cabinet, and constituent offices and departments), the Supreme Court does not actually administer or govern the affairs of state. Unlike the Legislative Branch (Congress), the Supreme Court does not legislate, that is, make laws.

It is to the Supreme Court that the U.S. Constitution entrusts the signal tasks of interpreting the letter and spirit of the Constitution, and reviewing the constitutionality of the actions of the Executive Branch and the laws passed by the Legislative Branch. That review is called “judicial review.”

The term “judicial activism” refers to when the Supreme Court oversteps the boundaries of “judicial review” and begins legislating — making laws.

On April 2, 2012, Barack Obama took the unprecedented step of preemptively commenting on the Supreme Court’s review of the constitutionality of his signature health care law — before the Court has even issued a ruling.

Obama said if “an unelected body,” the Court, were to overturn his Obamacare — a law that was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress” — such a move is both “unprecedented” and an example of “judicial activism”.

The next day, a three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals told the Department of Justice (DOJ) it has until Thursday to clarify Obama’s comments, specifically to explain whether the Obama administration believes the courts have the right to strike down a federal law.

Here’s the full text of DOJ’s letter, written by Attorney General Eric Holder, provided online by Fox News’ Insider. To read Holder’s letter in PDF, click here.

Judge Jerry E. Smith
Judge Emilio M. Garza
Judge Leslie H. Southwick
c/o Mr. Lyle W. Cayce

April 5, 2012
Clerk, United States Court of Appeals
for the Fifth Circuit
600 S. Maestri Place
ew Orleans, LA 70130
RE: Phvsician Hospitals o[America v. Sebelius. No. 11-40631

Dear Judge Smith, Judge Garza, and Judge Southwick:

This Court's letter of April 3, 2012 requested a response to questions raised at oral argument in this case, Physician Hospitals of America v. Sebelius, No. 11-4063 1. From the electronic recording of the argument, I understand the Court to have requested the views of the Department of Justice regarding judicial review of the constitutionality of Acts of Congress. The Court indicated that its inquiry was prompted by recent statements of the President.

The longstanding, historical position of the United States regarding judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation has not changed and was accurately stated by counsel for the government at oral argument in this case a few days ago. The Department has not in this litigation, nor in any other litigation of which I am aware, ever asked this or any other Court to reconsider or limit long-established precedent concerning judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation.

The government's brief cites jurisdictional bars to the instant suit and urges that plaintiffs' constitutional claims are insubstantial. See Appellee Br. of the United States at 17-38. At no point has the government suggested that the Court would lack authority to review plaintiffs' constitutional claims if the Court were to conclude that jurisdiction exists. The case has been fully briefed and argued, and it is ready for disposition. The question posed by the Court regarding judicial review does not concern any argument made in the government's brief or at oral argument in this case, and this letter should not be regarded as a supplemental brief.

1. The power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute. See generally, e.g. , Free Ente1prise Fund v. Public Co. Accounting Oversight Bd. , 130 S. Ct. 3138 (20 10); FCC v. Beach Communications, Inc., 508 U.S. 307 (1993). The Supreme Court resolved this question in Marbwy v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177-78 ( 1803). In that case, Case: 11-40631 Document: 00511812922 Page: 1 Date Filed: 04/05/2012 the Court held that " [i]t is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” Marbury, 1 Cranch at 177.

The Supreme Court has further explained that this power may only be exercised in appropriate cases. “If a dispute is not a proper case or controversy, the courts have no business deciding it, or expounding the law in the course of doing so.” Daim/erChJys/er C01p. v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 341 (2006); see, e.g., Weinberger v. Sa/fi, 422 U.S. 749, 763-766 (1975) (addressing a statutory bar to jurisdiction). In the case before this Court – Physician Hospitals of America v. Sebe/ius, o. 11-40631 -we have argued that this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case. See Appellee Br. of the United States at 15-38.

Where a plaintiff properly invokes the jurisdiction of a court and presents a justifiable challenge, there is no dispute that courts properly review the constitutionality of Acts of Congress.

2. In considering such challenges, Acts of Congress are “presumptively constitutional,” Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 507 U.S. 1301, 1301 (1993), and the Supreme Court stressed that the presumption of constitutionality accorded to Acts of Congress is “strong.” United States v. Five Gambling Devices Labeled in Part .. Mills,and Bearing Serial Nos. 593-221,346 U.S. 441 , 449 (1953); see, e.g., Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 28 (2005) (noting that the “congressional judgment” at issue was “entitled to a strong presumption of validity”). The Supreme Court has explained: “This is not a mere polite gesture. It is a deference due to deliberate judgment by constitutional majorities of the two Houses of Congress that an Act is within their delegated power or is necessary and proper to execution of that power.” Five Gambling Devices Labeled in Part .. Mills,” and Bearing Serial Nos. 593-221, 346 U.S. at 449. In light of the presumption of constitutionality, it falls to the party seeking to overturn a federal law to show that it is clearly unconstitutional. See, e.g., Salazar v. Buono, 130 S. Ct. 1803 , 1820 (20 1 0) (“Respect for a coordinate branch of Government forbids striking down an Act of Congress except upon a clear showing of unconstitutionality.”); Beach Communications, Inc. , 508 U.S. at314-15.

3. While duly recognizing the courts’ authority to engage in judicial review, the Executive Branch has often urged courts to respect the legislative judgments of Congress. See, e.g. , Nature ‘s Daily. v. Glickman, 1999 WL 158 1396, at *6; State University of New York v. Anderson, 1999 WL 680463, at *6; Rojas v. Fitch, 1998 WL 457203, at *7; United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 75i v. Brown Group, 1995 WL 938594, at *6. The Supreme Court has often acknowledged the appropriateness of reliance on the political branches’ policy choices and judgments. See, e.g., Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New Eng., 546 U.S. 320, 329 (2006) (explaining that, in granting relief, the courts ‘·try not to nullify more of a legislature’s work than is necessary” because they recognize that’” [a] ruling of unconstitutionality frustrates the intent of the elected representatives of the people’”(alteration in the original) (quoting Regan v. Time, inc. , 468 U.S. 641, 652 (1984) (plurality opinion))); Turner Broadcasting System, inc., 512 U.S. at 665-66. The “Court accords ‘ great The “Court accords ‘ great weight to the decisions of Congress”‘ in part because “[t]he Congress is a coequal branch of government whose Members take the same oath [judges] do to uphold the Constitution of the United States.” Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57,64 (1981) (quoting Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Democratic National Committee, 412 U.S. 94, 102 (1973)). These principles of deference are fully applicable when Congress legislates in the commercial sphere. The courts accord particular deference when evaluating the appropriateness of the means Congress has chosen to exercise its enumerated powers, including the Commerce Clause, to accomplish constitutional ends. See, e.g. , NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 32 (1937); McCulloch v. Matyland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 408 (1819). See also Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, 651 F.3d 529, 566 (6th Cir. 20 11) (Opinion of Sutton, J.); Seven Sky v. Holder, 661 F.3d 1, 18-19 (D.C. Cir. 201 1) (Opinion of Silberman, J.)

The President’s remarks were fully consistent with the principles described herein.
[Filed and served via ECF]

Sincerely,
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General

Case: 11-40631 Document: 00511812922 Page: 3 Date Filed: 04/05/2012

Translated into ordinary English, Holder’s letter confirms that:

  • Judicial review is the unique constitutional responsibility of the Supreme Court;
  • It is not “judicial activism” for the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of any act of Congress; and
  • Barack Obama’s accusation that the Supreme Court’s judicial review of Obamacare is improper and constitutes a case of “judicial activism” was out of line.

Translated into even more understandable English, what Holder is saying is “I know the bastard screwed up but you and I both know what the law is.”

His former law student is dismayed at Obama’s entirely improper use of the term “judicial activism”. Read his essay here.

~Eowyn