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.