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An Interesting Question

A few months a go, the federal courts found that the state of Illinois has been acting unconstitutionally when it gives its citizens no legal manner in which to carry a firearm outside of their homes.  Illinois is the only state with no provisions for legal carry.  The court gave the state 180 days to pass a law that regulates this constitutionally protected behavior, and apparently the state legislature has been arguing how many dead voters can dance on the head of a pin ever since.  In other words, business as usual seems to be happening in Springfield.

Something novel happened the other day, though.

But Paul Castiglione, policy director for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, told lawmakers there is no need for a new law.

“Only the Illinois Supreme Court can declare a statue from (the legislature) unconstitutional,” Castiglione told lawmakers Tuesday. “I heard (someone) say that after 180 days our UUW (unlawful use of weapon) statute is unconstitutional. Not so.”

Did y’all get that?  A lawyer who represents one of the largest cities in the country believes that only the courts of a state have the authority to rule on the constitutionality of a law passed by that state’s legislature.  I’m guessing things like Brown v. Board of Education, or maybe Roe v. Wade, or maybe McDonald v. Chicago mean nothing to him.  I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure we settled the supremacy of the federal Constitution over a century ago.

But this raises a good point.  Let’s say that Chicago ignores the courts on this issue, whether or not the legislature passes a new law.  People found carrying a gun in Cook County are arrested and possibly even imprisoned.  The local government continues its obstinacy, defying the federal courts.

What recourse do those who are harmed by this have?

Do you think the Holder Justice Department is going to lift a finger to file a civil rights complaint?   Do you think that Obama and his minions will enforce contempt citations drawn up by the federal courts if they are against his most intimate political allies and in relation to gun rights?

What happens to our system of Constitutional jurisprudence when those with powerful friends defy it and those charged with executing its laws ignore it?

This is, to me, a chilling prospect.  A precedent of ignoring the courts’ interpretations of the Constitution and, by so doing, the Constitution itself, with no repercussions will lead to others ignoring it, and eventually its rending and destruction.  I know that sounds melodramatic, but to me, it’s true.  Our system is not based on territory, or blood, or culture, but on trust.  We must trust that the Constitution is the overarching law of the land, and that the authority of the Judiciary will be enforced by the Executive.  Anything else will be a boost of speed in a death spiral that we cannot survive as a republic.

I pray that calmer minds prevail in Illinois.  Provoking a Constitutional crisis is a dangerous thing, and I fear that even should those who hold the Constitution dear prevail, we will not survive the damage it causes.

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  1. Lazy Bike Commuter

     /  February 20, 2013

    Battle of Athens?

    Although somehow I don’t think it would be such an easy affair in Chicago land.

  2. Anonymous

     /  February 20, 2013

    I live in Southern Illinois. This state is a joke. Its so corrupt here that with the money you can do anything. A state job cost 800 bucks cash. Our schools are a joke, unless you live in Chicago, you get jack shit from Springfield. If i could I would leave in a second

  3. Scary is right… And this just might be the next “Lexington”…

  4. Mr. Castiglione may want to rethink his view of the law. I’m sure there are thousands of Circuit and Supreme Court Decisions the state of Illinois is relying on in order to function properly.

    If any law, regulation, or ordinance depends on the State court ruling to be valid, think of all the laws, regulations, ordinances that will suddenly be invalid. Income taxes I believe were Constitutionally mandated and then determined that the states could apply them also. So every citizen could stop paying state income taxes?

  5. Sounds like Castiglione is trying to emulate Orville Faubus, standing up for the values of his culture in the face of outsider oppression. (Culture = The Outfit)

  6. nixfu

     /  February 22, 2013

    >I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure we settled the supremacy of the federal Constitution over a century ago.

    Incorrectly. Incorporation was the biggest mistake the country ever made and it pretty much destroyed the concept of states. States are now useless and should be gotten rid of.

    • Actually, I see incorporation is setting a floor below which the states may not go when it comes to our rights. For example, a state may decide to incorporate a clause in their state constitution dealing with firearms ownership that is more permissable than the Second Amendment to the federal Constitution, but not more restrictive.

      • nixfu

         /  February 22, 2013

        Your forgetting something. That is now what our form of government is supposed to be. By setting your floor…your also setting a ceiling.

        There is a reason why so many states have more freedoms in their constitutions than the general constitution because they thought it was their job to protect their citizens rights not the general government.

        Why would states put anything about rights that duplicated the general constitution if the general constitution would overrule anything they had in the state one?

        James madison (author of the US Constitution) made it clear that those 14 original amendments they were debating (10 were eventually ratified aka bill of rights) were to EXCLUSIVELY limit the powers of the NEW (1789) General Government.

        People try to cite that the 14th amendment passed after the Civil War made the Bill of Rights apply to the states, but that is revisionist history if you go read the debates the men who wrote the 14th amendment had,

        The 14th Amendment, according to federal courts, beginning in the second decade of the 20th century, made various provisions of the Bill of Rights enforceable by federal courts against state governments. This is nonsense. Nobody believed it in the 19th century. We can find that that’s true by looking at the fact that soon after the 14th Amendment was adopted, they had debates in Congress over the question whether there should be a constitutional amendment to make the principle of separation of church and state enforceable against the federal government. That is, after the 14th Amendment was adopted, Congress adopted lots of time to considering the question: Should they amend the Constitution to make the principle of separation of church and state enforceable against the federal government.

        The reason that’s significant is, if the 14th Amendment had been intended to make the Bill of Rights first a provision that is enforceable against the federal government, there wouldn’t have needed to be another amendment to make the establishment clause enforceable against the federal government. It already would have been but it wasn’t. Nobody said we already have incorporation, and the reason they didn’t say that is because they didn’t. This idea of incorporating the Bill of Rights, or parts of it anyway, into the due process clause of the 14th Amendment was cooked up in the second decade of the 20th century. It has nothing to do with what the people ratified in the 19th century. What we end up with here is a bogus application of some idea of a right to gun ownership made up by federal judges, by federal judges, against local and state governments. Of course, what that means is you can’t control what the rules are going to be because we don’t get to vote on who the federal judges are. We don’t ever get to have any say in deciding what the policies are going to be.

        If you want to cite one of the single biggest failures of the United States its this incorporation crap that pretty much was one of the biggest factors that destroyed states sovereignty and created a nationalist general all powerful government empire.

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