By: Thomas Lee Abshier, ND
“Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them.” –Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 1788
I was astounded at that quote when I was preparing for class on Article III, and I remain astounded. I guess the founders weren’t perfect either, huh?
Herb, it sounds like Hamilton was naïve to the tendency to the depravity of the human soul. The first commandment is, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The Judiciary has been given the place of supreme worship in our society.
As you noted in class, the judiciary was intended to be a weak branch, having no power to make law or execute the requirements of law. We see early recognition of the threat by the Founders when Jefferson remarked that he feared that the republic would degenerate into a Supreme Court-ruled-oligarchy after the Marbury v. Madison decision.
(Marbury v. Madison established precedent for the authority of the Supreme Court to declare legislation unconstitutional. And, while Lincoln used executive authority to invalidate Dred Scott, and Congress has no doubt on occasion overturned a Supreme Court ruling with new legislation, there has been little recognition of the Founders’ intent for an inferior opinion-based role of the Court.)
The rise to absolute dominance of the Court begs us to ask, “What are the flaws, weaknesses, and passions in human nature that cause men to pervert the Godly boundaries of government?” And, “Can we overcome the coalition of evil (men and the spiritual realm) that tempts and seduces men?”
The degeneration away from the Constitutional Original Intent has taken many generations. The drama of antagonists, protagonists, and useful idiots has played a part in the ultimate demise of a system meant to balance and neutralize the evil and foolishness of men.
Group 1) Evil men (the full spectrum from those who actively hate the yoke of God’s Law and consciously plot its subversion, to the petty men of pride and avarice who sell principle for lifestyle, power, and fame).
Group 2) Good men (who recognized the threat, spoke against it, and stayed faithful in their own lives).
Group 3) The Masses, the sheep, useful idiots, the callow and shallow populace (who follow their passions, the opinion of media, authority, group). It is this group who are the prize. It is they who have ultimately been seduced into an unqualified trust in the wisdom and Rightness of the judge/judiciary/court as the ultimate knower, discerner, and dispenser of Truth.
The weakness of every representative democracy lies in its dependence upon capturing the votes of the Independents and undecided center. The uncommitted middle typically has the least ideology and information directing their vote and is most susceptible to sound-bite-persuasion, slogans, and surface appearance. A scoundrel who hides his dark core, seduce the confused and susceptible masses, take hold of the governmental control power, and fundamentally change the nation.
The masses are the ultimate movers of a republic because society, business, and government move only with their assent. When the masses lack wisdom, they install pretenders (fools, narcissists, and/or thieves) to act as their proxy representatives to execute self-government.
To restore the blessing on our land, we must first identify the society’s errors of mind, heart, and spirit, and replace that error with Truth. The redemption of our republic depends upon elevating the masses’ moral literacy and commitment to Godliness.
At its base, accepting the premise of the Supreme Court as the highest authority in all matters of law, policy, and constitutionality, reflects the sin of idolatry. People have bowed and worshiped the false gods of men’s judgment, precedent, and structures of government, rather than continually reexamining each in light of the primary standard – the Word of God.
In its simplistic form, the elevation of the Supreme Court to the final authority has a positive and negative polarity:
Positive/Pursuit: The worship of false gods
Negative/Retreat: Turning away from the True God
Men reject God and His Law because of ignorance, pride/rebellion, error and/or foolishness. But, no man can boast because of his faith or wisdom, since we are all subject to the distorting influences of prejudice, ignorance, and desire. Nevertheless, we must each advocate for the Truth that we believe, and seek to enroll others. Truth speaks strongly in results, and some will be swayed by facts and logical argument. But, ultimately, miracles speak the loudest, and a direct move of God is usually required to return a people to Him.
As Christians, we have embraced the Bible as the only tangible standard of Truth, and we use it, and the Spirit that gives those words life, to judge men’s hearts, actions, and laws. But, in our nation we have turned away from the original (unspoken, de facto, implied) commitment to the supremacy of the Bible/Word of God as the standard of Truth.
Without a bedrock of Truth to which they may hold, men cast about, in search of philosophical stability. Men exalt self, nature, charismatic leaders, institutions/groups, and philosophies, principles, theories (relativism, choice, freedom/liberty, equality, nihilism, hedonism, stoicism, moderation…) as the determinant of Truth. And while none is the penultimate standard, each of these principalities has its place in triangulating Truth. Each of these points of tension and advocacy should be compared with each other, and all should be tempered, guided, and trumped by the spirit of Truth available through the Bible. To this end, the Founders established a government divided into branches. The perspective of each was meant to contribute to the debate through the dynamic process of divining Truth in practical application.
But as a nation, we have lost the subtle, pervasive, background, cultural, unspoken, bias-devotion to the Word of God and Jesus as Lord. Thus, we no longer check the perspective of the secular institutions of society with a transcendent source-perspective. Thus, we see the phenomenon of modern-day idolatry played out in “Court worship”. The Word of God has been replaced by the word of the SCOTUS. The result has been an institution revered so highly that their opinion becomes de facto law. Their opinion has been elevated to the authority of executive command. All the resources of government are placed into action as opinion becomes law, and is implemented and enforced according to the dictates of its supreme authority.
Sadly, turning away from Right judgment results in self-imposed destruction. If we do not turn from our idolatry of the Courts and return the Word of God to its rightful apex in judging life, our nation will suffer the same fate as the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel as they repeatedly rejected and returned to Right worship of the True God.