There are a select few in the United States who can bend Constitutional laws to their favor and that few consists of those elected to legislate, execute and defend those laws. Presidents, Congresses, and the Supreme Courts have been “pro-choice” for as long as those laws were established and by “pro-choice” this paper refers to a definition meaning “free to choose which laws to obey”. The bending and total disregard for laws could turn the staunchest conservative into a freethinking independent if such individuals knew of the legal indiscretions of their elected and appointed officials. This paper will give examples of how all three branches of the United States government; the Legislative, the Judicial, and the Executive are guilty of bending the laws established in the Constitution. This paper will start each section with stating the responsibilities established for all three branches of government and will give specific, modern examples of how they have acted against those laws.
The Judicial Branch of the United States Government was established and is governed by Article Three of the Constitution. Article Three has three sections with each of those specifying judicial responsibilities.
Section One: Section One states that Judgements by lower courts are reviewable by the Supreme Court to determine if their judgements are constitutional. It also determines tenure and the salaries of Supreme Court justices.
Section Two: Creates the right to trial by jury in regards to all criminal cases, determines who can be tried, determines jurisdiction, gives the responsibility of choosing an appropriate punishment for it to Congress. Section Two also establishes that the Supreme Court will settle court cases between two states and cases between a state and a citizen of another state, between citizens claiming lands of a different state, and between states and other countries. Section Two determines where state cases will be tried, specifically stating that cases are to be tried where the crime was perpetrated, otherwise location will be determined by Congress.
Section Three: Section Three defines and determines punishment for treason against the United States and establishes that the charge of treason must be confirmed by two witnesses or on confession in open court. Section Three also rules that offspring of a person charged with treason cannot be punished for said crime (Eaton, 1988)
Judicial Infractions of the Constitution
Case One: The U. S. Supreme Court case of Frisbie v. Collins established the principle that a court has the power to put a defendant on trial, even if law enforcement break the law, including abduction and kidnapping, in order to enforce the law. The U.S. government has also granted itself the power to invade other nations in order to abduct their citizens and the Supreme Court has not bothered to say otherwise. Such an act is exactly what the United States government did in 1990 when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sent private agents into Mexico to abduct a suspect, after they punched him in the stomach, Tazered him, and injected him with a substance that made him light-headed. He was flown by means of a private airplane into Texas and turned over to authorities, which was in violation of the Extradition Treaty signed in 1978 and a violation of international law. A federal district judge in California and the United states
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit both agreed that the federal courts had no power to try him and ordered him to be sent back to Mexico, however, the Supreme Court case United States vs. Alvarez-Machain, the Supreme Court ignored laws. They rationalized the infraction against the United States-Mexico Extradition Treaty was legal because the DEA hired independent agents to abduct the defendant. Justice Stevens went so far as to add that the United States also had the right to torture defendants because it is more
expedient or efficient than extradition. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote for the court that the return of the defendant to Mexico was to be decided by the Executive Branch, which is erroneous. That responsibility is that of the United States Supreme Court because it is their job to stop the government from acting unlawfully (Napolitano, 2004).
Cases Two, Three and Four are all federal cases, which are in direct violation of the United States Constitutions First Amendment that states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment or religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.
Case Two: In 1999 A Federal Jury in Oregon ruled for a website, “Nuremburg Files”, to pay $100 million as a fine for provocative anti-abortion material.
Case Three: In 1997 a North Carolina newspaper was fine $500,000 for publishing truthful details of a secret settlement agreement in an environmental pollution case, although the reporter received the information directly from the court clerk.
Case Four: In 1997, in Greenville, Mississippi, a newspaper reporter was arrested and jailed for publishing a criminal’s juvenile record even though it was read aloud in an open courtroom during a sentencing (Napolitano, 2004).
The Executive Branch
The Executive Branch was established in Article Two of the United States Constitution, which describes the powers appointed to the office of the president. The article establishes how elections are to be handled, and what qualifies an individual to the President and the procedure for his replacement. Article Two also provides for the impeachment and removal from office of all officers of the government. The powers of the president are as follows: Commander in Chief of the military during wartime, be advised by head of executive departments, power to grant reprieves and pardons, make treaties in conjunction with Congress, with Congressional consent he can appoint Ambassadors and other public ministers and consuls, judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, fill vacancies, give State of the Union Address and make recommendations, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement he may adjourn them, and shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers (Pika and Maltese, 2008).
Executive Infractions of the Constitution
Case One: He was impeached for having sex with an intern and then lying about it to a grand jury.
Case Two: Conducted an unconstitutional war over Kosovo without approval by Congress.
Case One: Used illegal surveillance methods against political opponents and obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress in covering it up.
Case Two: Initiated an unconstitutional war in Cambodia.
Case Three: During the Vietnam-era, intelligence agencies were misused to spy on anti-war protesters.
Lydon B. Johnson
Case One: Used illegal surveillance activities against political rivals.
Case Two: During the Vietnam-era, intelligence agencies were misused to spy on anti-war protesters.
Case One: Iran-Contra affair, in which he knowingly violated the Arms Export Control Act, a criminal statute, and sold arms to radical supporters of terrorists.
Case Two: His administration violated a congressional prohibition on providing money and support to the Nicaraguan Contra fighters. The Reagan administration’s
Case Three: Violated of the Boland Amendment, offending the constitutional checks and balances system.
George W. Bush:
Case One: Invading another country on false pretenses.
Case Two: Violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) essentially with his PATRIOT ACT.
Case Three: The Bush administration’s FBI examined the personal records of tens of thousands of Americans without probable cause.
Case Four: Monitored anti-Iraq war protesters, as documented in the Pentagon database.
Case Five: Policies on detainees in the “war on terror” and the use of torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners and depravation of due process (Eland, 2005).
The Legislative Branch
Article One of the United States Constitution determines procedures for election and qualifications for Congressmen and it outlines legislative procedure, grants congressional powers and establishes limits on powers. Powers granted to Congress are defined in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution and are as following: lay and collect Taxes, pay the debts, defend the United States, borrow money, regulate Commerce, establish rules for naturalization, set laws for bankruptcies, coin and regulate money, set Standard of weights and measures, punish counterfeiters, establish Post Offices, promote science and art, by securing copy rights and patents, constitute Tribunals inferior to the
supreme Court, punish pirates and offenders of the Law of Nations, declare War, grant letters of marque and reprisal, create laws for land and water claims, maintenance of the military, and to create laws.
Legislative Branch Infractions of the Constitution
Case One: Act of April 4th, 1988, an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934, imposing an outright ban on “indecent” but not obscene messages. It was overruled by the Supreme Court in the case of Sable Communications of California vs. FCC because it violated the First Amendment, since it has not been shown to be narrowly tailored to further the governmental interest in protecting minors from hearing such messages.
Case Two: The Flag Protection Act of 1989, which criminalized burning the United
States flag. This act was struck down as a violation against free speech in the Supreme
Court case of U.S. vs. Eichman (www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/pdf/cpn039.pdf)
All three branches of the United States government are guilty of bending and, at times, all out disregard for the Constitution, which has been a part of the system since its instillation and will likely not end any time soon.