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Britain's Top Justice Criticizes American Courts For Taking The People's Power

October 17, 2017

Because I hate clichés, let me offer a different analogy. Instead of a frog in a kettle, let’s say you are hiking along a mountain trail. The weather is pleasant, your energy is up, and so you keep hiking throughout the day, taking several paths and turns. After several hours pass and the morning sun turns into the light of dusk, you think to yourself, “Where am I”? If you have hiked many mountain trails in your life, then you know that most trails look the same. Rocks. Trees. Occasional litter. But because of various turns you have taken, you now have no idea of where you are. You are lost. You are in need of someone to point you in the direction home.

American democracy is lost. And this revelation was pointed out to me from a very unusual source – an expert in British law.

Recently I attended the Tenth Circuit Bench and Bar conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During the Saturday morning session, the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor spoke, and then sat down in the front row. She spoke about how nice it is that we have judges that like each other. She informed us that there is a camaraderie amongst those sitting on the federal bench.

And then Lord Igor Judge got up to speak. You probably do not know who he is, I didn’t. He is the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. He is the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeals in England. In other words, to say that he is an expert in English law would be an understatement on par with saying the Pope knows a little something about religion.

The title of his speech was “No Taxation without Representation.”

Surely you remember this phrase. “No taxation without representation” was the battle cry of the American colonists against the decisions of a government they did not elect. Our forefathers were incensed that issues very important to them, such as taxation, were being decided by a government not of their choosing. And so as they threw tea out into the British Harbor, they loudly voiced their disdain for government “not by the people.”

And soon, this idea of demanding a voice in the government, a real voice, found its way into the DNA of our law. Our Constitution reads, “We the people ….” We are a nation “of the people” and “by the people” and “for the people”.

I was immediately intrigued by the notion that I was going to hear from a British law expert on this issue. Was he going to apologize on behalf of all of England? Was he going to make reparations for our injuries? Was he going to serve tea?

Growing up in the American school system, I had always heard our angle on this issue. But I was fascinated as to what the other side thought. My mother always told me there were two sides to every story. What possibly could an Englishman say about this issue?

Well, what he said floored me. With our own Justice Sotomayor sitting in the front row, he talked about how in England the rule of law rests with the people. I could buy this. After all, Parliament is elected by the people and makes the laws in England.

But then he gave this stinger. He asked why in a country that apparently is governed by “We the people,” in a country that was formed out of a righteous indignation of unelected officials thrusting their decisions on us, that our most important issues, such as the right to life, are decided by unelected judges? He pointed out that while in England such important issues are decided by the people, in America, these issues are decided by the courts.

Wow! Here I was thinking he was going to have to eat some crow as an Englishman because their outdated political system forced the colonists to revolt. But instead, we as Americans have to eat the crow because we are right back where we started. And we have to eat it with a spot of tea! 

Although we claim to be a country of “We the people,” the ultimate power, outside of a revolution, rests with unelected judges.  And it's not just with the right to life issue.  Courts across this land are attempting to redefine marriage.  They are removing religious monuments.  They are outlawing prayer.

Americans are still offended by government policies that reflect the will of the people, but now the oppressor is our own government!

The real irony in all of this is that it took an Englishman to point out how dictatorial our government has become.

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