In my homeschool wanderings, I recently picked up some books by Richard Maybury. He proposes two basic principles upon which all religions and cultures agree. These are the two principles of common law upon which our Founding fathers based our country’s foundations:
1) Do all you have agreed to do.
2) Do not encroach on other persons or their property.
We teach these basic principles to our one and two year olds, ie: “you can’t take his truck,” “you may not hit her,” “you need to ask before you take that.” As in my “Thoughts on Law” blog, these are principles everyone is held to both individually and collectively because they involve basic human rights granted by a Higher Power (our Creator, as the founders put it).
The government does not grant these basic human rights and responsibilities and thus have the power to exempt itself. That government would adopt this perspective and force it on the people was a legitimate fear, and Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Jay and the others worked to create a government that would be limited. However, time has passed and we now have a government that believes it grants the governed their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without being accountable to the consents of the governed or its own laws. Government believes it is the Higher Power.
The issue of the Declatory Ruling regarding hogs is a star studded example of how this is working. To better explain, I offer a quote from Richard Maybury’s Whatever Happened to Justice?
“Charles Meachling, Jr. is an international layter, former Cambridge law professor, and US State Department official. In the BROOKINGS REVIEW he wrote:
‘In the U.S. the sanctimonious maxim that “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” puts every citizen at risk. That may have been a sound rule in simpler times, when the catalog of punishable offenses was limited to traditional offenses like murder, robbery, rape, and larceny, but it becomes a sinister joke when applied to the five-foot shelf of the U.S. criminal code and the even more voluminous statutes of the individual states.
‘Moreover, in the U.S. a citizen cannot rely on the plain meaning of a statute, or what passes for it. He must retain a lawyer to parse its legislative history and judicial evolution. So many forms of social and economic activity have now been criminalized that the discretionary power of federal and state authorities to pick and choose targets for prosecution has made enforcement utterly arbitrary. (Does this not sound like the feral hog enforcement?)
‘In the case of the tax codes, not one citizen in ten million can tell whether he has committed a trivial error or subjected himself to the risk of a felony conviction. In addition, by a grotesque inversion of legal principle, the burden is on the taxpayer to prove his innocence.’
“Note Meachling’s statement that enforcement now is ‘utterly arbitrary.’ In the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Dozinshi writes: ‘Over the past half-century the idea that the law consists of objective rules has been supplanted’ by what he calls ‘subjectification.’
“In other words, Judge Kozinski is angry that laws now are deliberately made unclear. The purpose is to widen the power of law enforcers to catch whomever they suspect of wrongdoing. This also makes it impossible for you and me to know if we are breaking the law.” (emaphasis is mine)
One of the protections citizens have under the Constitution is that of due process. Under this clause, the Supreme Court has declared a law must be clear enough for an average person to be able to understand it and determine if he/she is in compliance. A law also may not be so vague that law enforcement officers can use their own discretion in where, when, and on whom to enforce the law. Our forefathers saw a time when the government would make a law identifying spotted/red/black colored, curly or straight tailed, erect or floppy eared pigs with shoulder height and tail length as illegal to own, regardless of use or purpose, with a felony conviction as the consequence. And they provided the citizenry with protections against such vague, discretionary, and punitive laws by allowing such laws to be declared void for vagueness.
This is the protection we seek. To say the Declatory Ruling is unconstitutionally vague is an understatement. This will be argued before a Circuit Court Judge on October 15, 4 months from now. In the meantime, Michigan citizens are subject to a law that is totally subjective and can be enforced on anyone at any time in a punitive and arbitrary fashion (as in Ron McKendrick’s case). At this time the enforcers are choosing to target hunting ranches, but the number of people who have read the ruling then needed to call the DNR for clarification is an indication that it is not clear to the average person whether or not their possession of any given pig is legal or felonious. The enforcers can narrow or broaden their target at will.
Good luck farming!