Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tom Rossman on Common Law Juries: A Coup By Any Other Name

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 United States

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 Alliance 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 England 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."

3 comments:

  1. One thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is that Thomas Adair Rossman writes only destruction against the NLA and no solution. It also seems as if he thinks we are pushing a certain religious belief and there is no opening for other beliefs to flourish within this wonderful group of people. We all come from all walks of life, and all have some what different views, but with the same common since and the same wants.

    The article reads as if he is sophisticated and that the system is too, but the problem is using fancy words to describe a failed system that is in fact hurting people doesn't make it a better system. Nor does going back into history to point out flaws of this same failed system going to make it better or that we should just keep what we have because it's been around for so long. It has failed over and over along with getting stronger and stronger which is dangerous.

    We have all heard and seen that history is repeating it's self and what usually happens is a mass amount of people loose their lives fighting for what they believe in because power doesn't want to give up power. Life is beautiful and it should be for everyone not just the click that is in with the in crowd... a simpler solution will suffice such as; if you don't like the NLA that's fine, but count me out of all of your Government everything. No tax, no licenses what so ever, no entering onto my land, no nothing just count me out and everyone that wants to follow. We know they wont let us do that because there would be to many of us opting out. And I Sir am not here in this short life, that was gifted to me by my God or Creator, to supply a Government nor a group of people with anything!

    So if the system fails and it has repeatedly and it will again because it is right now, and this new beautiful idea has never been done, and it is solely for the people, of the people, and by the people since it is suppose to be that way anyways, then, Thomas Adair Rossman, I reach out to you. With open arms and an open mind I reach out to you for discussion and dialog on what you think will improve something that is for you too. I welcome you to talk to us with your concerns and ideas. Give me solutions to what you think will be a problem in the future and lets nip it in the bud before it begins, join us to over see our employees and help bring peace to millions of Americans all across this beautiful nation. If you can't give me intellectual discussion nor dialog with a positive direction and a few solutions to bounce back and forth. Then I will be forced to find you as someone whom benefits by this destructive system in one way or another and that you believe majority should rule regardless if that is sacrificing a few for the many. I ask you Sir again for some ideas and solutions...

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  2. I have lived my life as best as I could. I have not learned all that I have wanted to learn because I was told no. I have not lived the way that I wanted to live because I was told no. I have not become the person that I have dreamed I would become because I was told no. I have not been able to live my american dream because I was told no. Before you go on and say I have had bad parents or a rough life know this, It was the american as it is today that has stoped me at nearly every turn. From the time of my birth because of where I was born and who I was born from, The cards that have been dealt to me by the american bureaucracy, I could not even leave my home for school with out taking a chance of breaking some sort of law that should NOT of even existed. I have been made a criminal when I knew I was not, I have been shun by a system of thinking that all laws are good laws and I should just pay up. I have long dreamed of what life would be like in the days after the revalution when law WAS for the people because it was by the people. The system of government we have today only works if you can pay for it. Freedom should not have to come with a pricetag, nor should freedom come with a pricetag set upon it. Government has run out of the controll of the people. Look at the instances of Wounded Knee or the attack at Ruby Ridge not to mention the Waco Texas incident, the list grows more outragous when you look to whats going on more locally. A government by the people for the people does NOT exist anymore. I do not wnat to raise children in a nation where there is no justic for them. And so I ask you Thomas Adair Rossman what solutions do you have? Or will just go on with your rhetoric calling us unamerican for the belief that we can govern ourselves, the way it should be? Do you have anything positave to about the fact that we think our fellow man could be responsable for there own lives and that they know what is best for there own lives and that of there families? Or do not think the common man to be iresponsable as our government does? Do you not think that the common people should be able to cross the street without thinking that they are breaking the law if they do? I ask you Thomas Adair Rossman, Who do you represent? Do you represent the people? Or do you represent the problem that has afflicted our nation? And so I put forth to you Thomas Adair Rossman that although I may not be a man of religion I am a man of God and I know deep within myself the difference between right and wrong, and that all men weather they are men of God or not that they also know the difference between right and wrong. And that when given the chance they will act in accordance with there beliefs. Right will always win out over evil. And when given once again the responsibilty of there own lives they can make our nation great as should be.The people of our nation have been dumbed down and manipulated. We have all been dulled to sleep by a government that would have us think the way they want us to do so, In a manner that suits them and there needs. While all the time not giving account to the needs of the people themselves. I have become ashamed to think that this is what America has become. So I ask you again Thomas Adair Rossman, Will you be a part of the solution, or will you be a part of the problem?

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  3. [ May 20, 2014]-----I stumbled onto this page (and the NLA facebook page too). I left a comment at the NLA facebook page, and will add a short comment here, too. I mentioned (in my other comment) the conservative / Tea Party radio host Mark Levin, who advocates working within the constraints and mechanisms of the U.S. Constitution to start to reverse the power of the feds. I would say that the comments above have a good parallel in another well-known radio talk show host, Michael Savage. While Savage offers no solutions on his radio show, he says specifically that the government (mainly the feds), are --- maybe without knowing it, or maybe even intentionally --- pushing, pushing, pushing ordinary citizens to the point of revolt, by making hard-working and over-taxed citizens pay (through taxes) to support welfare and disability cheats who refuse to work, to support U.S. wars all over the world that have no benefit for the U.S. people, to support tens of millions of Illegal Aliens pouring in, etc. Michael Savage even has a book due to come out in October or so of this year, 2014: "Stop the Coming Civil War". Best of luck to all.

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