Thomas Adair Rossman wrote the following article regarding John Darash and the National Liberty Alliance's proposal to form Common Law Juries throughout the United States. Tom Rossman is an emerging global thought leader in improving political and economic decision making. He is the author of The Synthesis Revolution: New Thinking for a New Era of Prosperity, released in November 2012 by Eudaimonia Publishing and currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of Queens County:
"If I were to tell you that a God-fearing, patriotic American was proposing the single greatest exercise in social engineering since Maoist-Leninist-Marxism became the ruling dogma of
China in 1949, your initial
instincts would be opposed to such a movement. However, if I wrapped the message in the seemingly beneficial cloak
of ‘liberty’, appeals to amorphous
natural law, individual sovereignty, and threw in some ‘Great Awakening’
language, topped off with a biting critique of the current U.S. political system, you might be
more amenable to considering it. No?
The National Liberty Alliance strikes me as a well-meaning group of people who do not fully grasp the last three and a half centuries of political history. I am in complete agreement that our current system of government is in need of serious and deep reform, however, we have a mechanism in place to effect such change that has developed and adapted over the past several centuries called the ballot box and constitutional amendment. It is far from perfect, but it has provided the foundation for the enormous success of the
The National Liberty Alliance Mission Statement claims that, “To take political power is to control our elected representatives, by bringing them into obedience through fear of the people.” For the last 230 years, we have done exactly that through electing representatives and kicking them out when they failed in their duties. After all, what puts fear in the heart of a politician more than being voted out of office? We can all agree that is a flawed system, but next to the radical tectonic shift the National Liberty Alliance is proposing, it has the benefit of hundreds of years of testing and experiment. Their Mission Statement says: “To take judicial power is to control our courts by understanding jurisdiction and bringing into subjection all government officers and officials using common law courts by opening courts of record and executing "people" authority, it's that simple!” To replace our entire state legal system with an alternate system controlled by the National Liberty Alliance, based on the exceedingly vague “people authority” is to replace something that is known, flawed, but proven by something that is completely unknown and unproven. This smacks of Rousseau and Robespierre in the mission to “force men to be free”.
What they are advocating is a coup! A group of citizens who share the same subjective beliefs they do, taking control from officials elected by the people who do not. Their followers, according to the website, “first seek the blessings from the "GOVERNOR OF THE UNIVERSE" and build our endeavor upon Him and His principles (1) HONOR, (2) JUSTICE, and (3) MERCY. This is the only sure foundation, any other will succumb to tyrants.” What if a citizen doesn’t believe in a ‘governor of the Universe’ or has a different interpretation of the terms honor, justice and mercy? Technically, if these individuals are not willing to take the National Liberty Alliance’s theocratic oath, then they would not qualify to take part in this new and improved world order and do not constitute part of the ‘people authority’.
Their ideas further collapse in on themselves when one begins to unwind the logistics of their movement. They claim that, “Only the People can stand up and defend the Constitution because the Constitution cannot defend itself, and bureaucrats will never do it.” But at the same time, in the Common Law jury system, “Each county should eventually find four people (administrators) who will work full time (paid positions) to administrate and orient the jurist.” So a set of state-paid administrators who are essentially “bureaucrats” who will never defend the constitution, according to their own declaration, will now be in charge of the county grand juries across the country. Keep in mind that even though the
claims all of this is universally self-evident, completely obvious, and the
true law of the land, no legal scholar or Constitutional thinker of any note
has openly advocated for such an alternate system.
But, aside from the contradictions and the complete lack of basis in anything we know or have experienced in the Modern era, the most flawed aspect of their thinking is their atavistic interpretation of ‘individual sovereignty’. This cornerstone of modern democracy has been widely debated for centuries and if the National Liberty Alliance has their way, the last 350 years of debate on this issue would be wiped away in one fell swoop.
It was in the mid-17th century, in the midst of intense religious wars in
and across Europe, that Thomas Hobbes first
effectively made the case that ultimate sovereignty lay with the
individual. Prior to that, the dominate
form of “natural law” in Europe, held that
Kings and the Church were supreme, not individuals. This is why Hobbes’ Leviathan was so revolutionary in inverting the power structure to
make the government the servant of the people. At the same time, Hobbes believed that without the strong rule of an
absolute monarch, day-to-day life would be so chaotic that it would return to
the ‘state of nature’ in which conditions were “continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of
man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
Thankfully, the advancement of political ideas didn’t end with Hobbes and John Locke picked up the torch of liberty with a more positive mission. It was Locke, in providing the ideas behind the Glorious Revolution in England, a model for the American Revolution a century later, who asserted it was not just a right, but an obligation for individuals to work together to improve the way that they were governed. Since that time, the Anglo-American political tradition has been to find the best possible way to govern ourselves in the most effective manner available. Granted, just as many of the men who contributed to this development, often flawed in execution, but were noble in intention.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too which is why the preamble of the Constitution sets out the recognition that, “In Order to form a more perfect Union.” we must work out our differences through an electoral system with checks and balances, division of powers through the branches of government and the freedom of choice of the individual citizen/voter. For example, before the Constitution was even ratified, it had already been widely agreed that ten new amendments, the Bill of Rights, would be added.
I suppose if I believed as John Darash, one of the leaders of the National Liberty Alliance, does, that the United States was on the edge of imminent demise, that all diseases can be cured through natural homeopathic remedies, and that the world is controlled by a few, select wealthy families, than I would be more pre-disposed to a radical re-writing of our entire social contract. However, since the leaders of this radical movement can offer no evidence of such things, and appeal purely to a vague assumption that all of these assertions are “proven facts”, I have no choice but to stand with John Locke, the Framers of the Constitution and most of the other Founding Fathers in asserting that the case has not been made for such a revolutionary proposed course of action.
We must keep in mind that one of the reasons the American Revolution was such a success and the French Revolution a dismal failure, was that Americans had been largely ruling themselves for more than a century when the brave Sons of Liberty began to push for the formalization of self-rule. In fact, it was 1619 when the first elected body in America began the long journey of collecting the experiences to effective self-rule, as a practical matter of survival, not an abstract one of ‘rights’. To push for such a radical departure from the system the Framers established and the changes and adaptations that have evolved to that system over time, is to repeat the mistake of the radicals of the French Revolution, the Communist revolutions of the 20th century and to make a mockery of one of the core values that the Framers and even the National Liberty Alliance claims to espouse, that of real world experience and change through adaptation and adjustment over time. That is actually one of the core principles of Common Law.
The bottom-line is that the National Liberty Alliance is very far from making a cogent argument that their Common Law Jury system, animated by the appeal to abstract and non-universal principles would even work, let alone be superior to our current system. That still leaves us with the pressing need to reform our current political system, so let the debate continue, unabated."