Nathan Sass

A Nation of Laws or of Men?

In Backroom Deals, Politics, Tea Party, WI Budget Battle on February 28, 2011 at 11:59 AM

The American experiment was, from the outset, a break from eons of human history where there were some who were considered to be above the law.  The founders vision was a system that, among other things, placed the law as supreme in all things.  No man and no institution was ever to be able to flaunt the laws that organize our nation, and her states, with impunity.

In Wisconsin, are we are seeing a political movement undoing over 200 years of these principles?

The protests at the state capital now entering their 3rd week are an expression of the freedoms granted to all by their creator, and enumerated by the founders in the Constitution.  Freedom to speak, to peaceably assemble, and petition their government are all essential to the principle of the rule of law.  I fully support the rights of those gathered to protest, as long as they do so within the laws governing peaceful assembly.

But there are also elements of this efforts led by unions and the Democrat party that are very disturbing to those of us who still strongly hold to principles of the rule of law.

First and foremost on the list of violations of the sanctity of rule of law are the actions of the 14 Democrat Wisconsin state senators who chose to flee the state and deny a quorum for a vote on a fiscal matter.  These 14 are fully aware that the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin plainly states that attendance at a session is mandatory.  The Call of the House, as it is refered to commonly, was specifically included by the authors of the state constitution in Article IV Section 7 to avoid exactly the situation we now face in WI today.

While no charges have yet been filed, the willful failure to discharge a mandatory duty of  a public office is specifically spelled out as a felony violation of state statutes regarding Misconduct in Public Office.  These 14 must know that they are not only violating the constitution they are sworn to uphold, but the criminal laws of the state of Wisconsin as well.

Yet they brazenly continue their defiance.  In so doing, the 14 are declaring by their actions that they believe themselves to be superior to the law itself, simply because of their political stance on an issue.

The open violation of the law does not end with the conduct of the 14 senators.  All over the state, multiple districts were required to shut down school due to massive numbers of teachers calling in sick.  State law clearly states that teachers are prohibited from conducting job actions such as strikes or work stoppages.  These “sick outs” were tantamount to a strike and therefore were illegal job actions.

The arrogance of these teachers in violation of the law was unmeasurable.  Not only did they travel to the capital while supposedly being to sick to work, they demonstrated publicly and were more than happy to be interviewed or filmed on camera.  They were clearly not too ill to perform their duties in the school as the media coverage clearly shows.

These teachers obviously believed that their political stance on an issue made them superior to the laws of the state that are supposed to govern us all.

Worse yet, these teachers were supported by a few physicians who appeared on the streets to provide literally anyone that asked a signed note declaring that they were ill.  No tests were performed, no examinations given, and no medical records present.  They didn’t even bother to check an ID to verify the identity of the supposed patient.  These doctors not only violated their professional ethics, they participated knowingly in an effort to defraud the taxpayers of the school districts of the supposedly sick teachers.

These physicians also demonstrated that they believe themselves to be above both their professional ethics and the law itself, based solely on a political position.

But perhaps the most disturbing  of all of these acts, the Capital Police have displayed a willingness to defy the lawful directives of the state legislature, and even worse are in some cases willfully ignoring violations of the law itself.  Proper conduct of law enforcement officers is the last bulwark against lawlessness.  We have every expectation that law enforcement officials follow their sworn oath to uphold the law regardless of circumstances, even if those they arrest hold positions they are sympathetic with.

What we have instead seen is law enforcement conducting themselves in a manner that declares that they too are above the laws of the state, justified only by a political position and the belief that solidarity with union brothers and sisters outweighs their oath to uphold the law.

Since the left clearly believes that their political position justifies violating the constitution and laws of Wisconsin, would they quietly accept the other side playing by these rules as well?  I caution the left to carefully consider what horrors they are willing to unleash from Pandora’s Box.

Those of us that still firmly hold to the principle of the superiority of the law cannot support the actions of those who would place themselves above it, even if we support their positions.  While I typically support the GOP, I would not ever for a second support the willful violation of the laws that govern us all, even if it advanced my political views.

I wish the left was also so inclined.  Clearly we have reached a time where their politics is more important to them than the principles of the republic the purport to love.

The Walker administration has not, to date, sought to enforce the laws that these groups and others have clearly and willfully violated, opting instead to show deference and a gentle hand.  No doubt there is a significant political component to this decision, but Walker is treading a dangerous path.

I sympathize with his desire to be understanding and tolerant to his opposition, but if allows such actions to continue without response, he is also placing himself above the law.

His oath requires that he uphold the constitution and laws of the State of Wisconsin, and his position as the head of the executive branch requires that he make every effort to see the law is upheld in all cases.  If he continues to ignore these clear violations of law, he is violating his oath in the same manner the Capital Police, doctors, teachers and 14 state senators have.

I am calling on Scott Walker to discharge his duties, and begin enforcing the laws as he is required to do.  I do not advocate that he use the law as a weapon, but I beg him to uphold it and require that others, especially law enforcement officials, do the same.  We can no longer allow the law to be subservient to political considerations.  The law must rule over all men, without prejudice or malice.

If we fail here and now to restore the law to its rightful place above all men, we have failed the republic, our founders and our children.  The union to which we all belong, the union of these 50 United States, cannot long survive when the law is not what rules us all.

  1. It is imperative that all Americans understand that we live in a republic, not a democracy. Simple majority rule results in anarchy, followed by tyranny. The left does NOT want that to happen, because it is well documented that the majority of Americans are personally conservative. I do not say this lightly: It is time for Governor Walker to call up a measured number of National Guardsmen, and to clear the capital grounds of protesters. They should use only that level of force necessary to clear the way for removal of banners and cleaning the building, and then to allow legislators and their staffs to conduct the business of the State without fearing for their safety. The governor should then pursue charges in Wisconsin court against the 14 wayward senators for their violation of state law. After charges have been filed, they can be declared fugitives from prosecution. Since they have crossed state lines, the FBI or the U.S. Marshal’s Service should be able to go get them from where ever they have fled.

    Once the rule of law has been applied to our 14 wayward senators, then the remaining legislators who obeyed the Call of the House should proceed to separate out the collective bargaining constraints from the budget bill and pass them as a separate act. This will not require the same quorum as it would for a fiscal bill. Then the separate budget bill can be brought forward and passed by the Assembly. The senate passage of the budget bill itself may have to wait for the wheels of justice to revolve, but the governor will just have to lay off public employees until that time, because Wisconsin state law requires balancing the budget. The layoffs will land squarely at the feet of the 14 Wisconsin senators that failed their public trust.

    If Governor Walker expresses clearly to the citizens of the State of Wisconsin exactly why he is taking each step, the majority of Wisconsin taxpayers will continue to support him in his pursuit of the rule of law. The protesters who were imported into Wisconsin by President Obama’s political action committee and Mr. Trumpka’s… supporters… (I don’t want to call them thugs) don’t really matter. They don’t vote here. They don’t pay taxes here. They’re just paid muscle to support the political agenda of the Democrat party. It will be far more difficult for them to intimidate National Guardsmen than the news crews and peaceful Wisconsinites that they’ve been shoving around.

    We have to support the rule of law and the Republic. The alternative will be UGLY.

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