Betrayed By The Bench
Clueless At Department
Of Homeland Security
Much Ado About
Power tends to corrupt –
even our Founders
Biography: Larry Pratt has been
Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for
more than 25 years. GOA is a national membership
organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to
promoting their second amendment freedom to keep
and bear arms.
GOA lobbies for the pro?gun position in
Washington and is involved in firearms issues in
the states. GOA's work includes providing legal
assistance to those involved in law suits with
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the
federal firearms law enforcement agency.
Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio
and TV programs such as NBC's Today show, CBS'
Good Morning America, CNN's Crossfire and Larry
King Live, Fox's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Phil
Donahue show and many others. He has debated
Congressmen James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles
Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY),
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice
President Al Gore, among others. His columns
have appeared in newspapers across the country.
He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in
1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding
Liberty The Constitution & Citizen Militias, in
1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line:
Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published
Pratt has held elective office in the state
legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of
Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other
public interest organizations and serves as the
Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for
Gun Owners of
Betrayed By The Bench
John Stormer is an amazing author. He has sold
over 11 million books. One, None Dare Call It Treason,
sold 7 million. That was in 1964 when there was no internet,
no faxes, no talk shows for conservatives. Stormer may have
been the first to put a coupon in the back of the book for
So, a new book by John Stormer means we can assume that
he has something else to say. Indeed he does.
In Betrayed by the Bench, Stormer traces the
lawlessness of so many of today's rulings to the revolt
against the common law that is Christian through and
through. The revolt was led from the Harvard Law School by
professors such as its Dean, Roscoe Pound. The replacement
was the tyranny of case law.
The case law preferred by Pound and his followers allowed
them to slip out from under the constraints of the timeless
and universal precepts foundational to the Common Law. Case
law allows judges to "make law." One of Pound's followers,
Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, made this amazing
statement: "We are under a constitution, but the
constitution is what we say it is."
Equally as amazing as Hughes' assertion was the failure
to impeach him for violating his oath of office. But as
Stormer points out, the idea of absolutes binding men died
in the pulpits before it died in the civil realm.
Stormer calls the result of
judicial lawmaking "an on-going Constitutional Convention."
I would call it a coup d'etat. This coup has been
hard to spot because the judges did not have a bunch of
colonels circling the seat of government with tanks. We have
witnessed a coup by increments -- something that is much
harder to detect.
There has been a concerted effort to exclude the
Declaration of Independence from the corpus of binding law.
This is a legal impossibility in view of the nature of the
Declaration -- it is a contract much the same as Articles of
Incorporation are. No one is at liberty to unilaterally
change the terms of a contract.
Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, had this to say
about the foundational role of the Declaration for the
Constitution and laws made pursuant to it:
The virtue which had been infused into the Constitution
of the United States…was no other than... those abstract
principles which had been first proclaimed in the
Declaration of Independence -- namely the self-evident
truths of the natural and unalienable rights of man... and
the sovereignty of the people, always subordinate to the
rule of right and wrong, and always responsible to the
Supreme Ruler of the universe for the rightful exercise of
that power. This was the platform upon which the
Constitution of the United States had been erected.
The boldness of the Court's usurpation is somewhat like
the old line of the crook who is caught in the act
exclaiming, "Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?" To
give but one example, consider the 14th Amendment. The 39th
Congress expressly stipulated that the Amendment was not
designed to control schools, voting and elections. Indeed,
that was so well understood that the 15th Amendment was
enacted in order to deal with voting.
The record of the clear intent of the framers of the 14th
Amendment has not stopped the Supreme Court from inventing
the doctrine of incorporation out of thin air. This has
allowed the Supremes to increase consolidation of power in
their own hands (and in the hands of their willing
accomplices in the legislative and the executive branches)
in Washington. This has been done at the expense of the
Constitutional reservation of most governmental powers to
the states and to the people.
Incorporation might be best understood by thinking of it
as incorporating stolen powers. The lack of jurisdiction for
many of the Court's decisions is comparable to the city of
Paris levying a tax to be paid by citizens of the United
States in the U.S.
Incorporation is now being expanded by a majority (six of
the nine justices) of the Supremes to allow for foreign law
as a guide to their judicial lawmaking. When the Court
recently overturned capital punishment for an 18-year old
who had cold-bloodedly murdered a neighbor when he was just
a "child" of 17, Justice Breyer claimed the support of the
murder law in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe! The country run by a thug
who has proclaimed himself a black Hitler!
Gun owners should not be surprised when the gun control
laws of some other thugocracy such as Cuba form the basis of
a Supreme rape of the 2nd Amendment. Americans generally
should not be surprised at any unconstitutional notion the
Supremes may take into their heads.
One challenge we face in freeing ourselves from this
judicial tyranny is that they have the benefit of a mind
fake that has us believing that anything, no matter how
outrageous, that comes out of the mouth of a judge is law.
Hence we see other government officials -- who have all
taken the same oath of office to uphold the Constitution --
violating their oaths by obeying unconstitutional edicts of
the Supreme Court. This is otherwise known as "upholding the
rule of law." Of course, it is anything but.
Until "We the People" remember that we only gave the
crowd in Washington a very limited amount of power to do
only a very few things, we will continue to be ruled by
unelected and unaccountable politicians wrapped in black
(My Live Fire interview with John Stormer can be
heard at http://www.gunowners.org/radio.htm. Stormer's
Betrayed by the Bench can be ordered from Liberty Bell
Press at http://www.libertybellpress.com.)
Clueless At Department Of Homeland
Outside of official Washington, most Americans understand
that profiling would make it easier to go after terrorists.
Refusal to profile has led to Washington bureaucrats and
policy makers tending to view the entire population as
One consequence of this is the very visible and extremely
aggravating practice of patting down octogenarians going
through airport security while refusing to treat Middle
Eastern men as a high risk category. Indeed, airlines can be
fined if more than two such individuals are singled out for
greater scrutiny per flight.
The idea seems to be that if we treat everybody nicely,
or at least aggravate everyone to an equal degree,
terrorists won't get mad at us. A study of the history of
Islamic terrorists, and what they believe, easily dispels
the notion that they will respond to niceness. It is all the
more aggravating that the rest of us have to suffer the loss
of our liberties because of this blind refusal.
The problem has now been notched up quite a bit. The
Department of Homeland "Security" has determined that ANY
involvement in armed struggle against a government
classifies the group involved -- and those who provide
material support to the group -- as terrorists.
In practical terms, this means that if the Rwandan
Tutsi's had not been conned by the UN into surrendering
their weapons, and had fought back against the genocide
conducted by the government, they would have been
terrorists. Do we really want a
definition that sets up a preference for genocide over self
Similarly, the Sudanese in the south of that country have
suffered some 2,000,000 dead in the genocidal jihad
conducted by the Islamic thugocracy controlling the capital
of Khartoum. By fighting back, the South has achieved a
semi-autonomous status and more or less eliminated the
murderous attacks from the jihadists. Are we now to consider
their resistance to have been terrorism?
Now, in February of 2006, the Department of Homeland
"Security's" insane definition of terrorism is being applied
to some Burmese Christian refugees resisting extermination
by the socialist thugs ruling in Rangoon. The State
Department had cleared the way for some 150,000 Karen
refugees to be given refugee status and admitted to the US
for asylum. But the new definition of terrorism at Homeland
Insecurity has blocked that. No terrorist is going to get
into the US under their watch! Right.
It is disturbing that Homeland "Security" is using a
definition of terrorism that is very consistent with the
view of armed resistance at the UN. For years, the UN has
pushed for gun control (meaning civilian disarmament). They
use the term "non-state actors" to describe those who should
not have guns. Guess who a non-state actor is. Rwandan
victims of genocide. Southern Sudanese freedom fighters.
Karen refugees in Burma. Average, hard-working Americans
such as Minutemen volunteers on our borders?
One more problem with this definition should be addressed
-- our own State Department is in danger of becoming a
terrorist enterprise because they have given "material
support" to the Karen refugees. Further, anyone who has
helped relieve the suffering of these people, such as
Christian Freedom International located in Front Royal,
Virginia is also a terrorist.
It is time to deliver a message to the Clueless Ones at
Homeland "Security". The President, Senate and House of
Representatives need to hear that a better definition of
"terrorist" is needed. Self defense hardly belongs in the
definition of terrorist. If the definition of terrorist is
not changed, perhaps we can at least get Washington to send
the Karen a large shipment of weapons and ammunition. That
way they won't run out of bullets the next time they are
Jim Jacobsen, head of Christian Freedom International,
told me in an interview I gave him on my Live Fire
radio show that time is running out for the Karens. People
wishing to contact the President and their Congressmen can
do so through the Gun Owners of America Legislative Action
Center -- http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm on the GOA
web site. Check to send your own message rather than one of
those that have been pre-written on other issues. All you
need to get going is to type in your zip code.
The UN, left to itself, will end up giving corruption and
socialism a bad name. Joseph Klein has written Global
Deception to show why. He pinpoints the UN's greatest
threat in his subtitle: The UN's Stealth Assault on
The corruption of the UN leadership, and its heavy hitter
supporters such as Canadian oil billionaire, Maurice Strong,
is a litany of hypocrisy on a par with the glitterati of
Hollywood. "Do as I say, not as I do."
Most readers are aware of Kofi Annan, the pious critic of
greedy capitalists, who plunged so deeply into the Oil for
Food scandal that he smells like an Iraqi oil well. Perhaps
not as many are familiar with Maurice Strong who wants
Americans to lose millions of job and to live in poverty so
that his earth-hugging theories can be imposed on America --
and the rest of the West. Strong is a Malthusian through and
through who "knows" that it is impossible for Mother Earth
to support as many people as are presently living. (Ever
wonder why environmentalists don't want DDT used that could
have saved the millions who have died from malaria?)
This has not kept Strong from investing in a robber-baron
auto company in Communist China so that he can export SUV's
at 30% under the competition now in the US. The Chery
Automobile Company is a mega-polluter, but it seems to be OK
if Strong is making money thereby.
The proper response to Maurice Strong's pagan religion
spelled out in his Earth Charter is laughter -- more than
any of the late night comedians can evoke. Strong actually
cooked up a pompous ceremony for marching his Earth Charter
into the UN's holies of holies in New York City. The Charter
was contained in an Ark of Hope --
obviously for him, an improvement on the Ark of the Covenant
which contained the Ten Commandments Moses brought down from
the mountain. Strong's pollution-belching SUV factory in
China violates his own Earth Charter. Do you suppose that
New York Times investigative reporters are, gas masks at
the ready, on the trail of this?
But as Klein points out in Global Deception, corruption
and hypocrisy is not the greatest threat to America's
freedoms. Rather, it is a very carefully developed stealth
campaign to steal America's freedoms while we are not
He provides a detailed account of how the pro-abortion
forces are working through Non Governmental Organizations
(NGO's) to lobby at the UN (which funds many of the NGO's)
to advance socialism as the tyranny of choice for a world
government run out of the UN.
After Klein reviews the workings of the pro-abortion
NGO's, he ends up with a general game plan that is being
followed in other areas such as guns. This is the heart of
the stealth campaign against America's freedoms.
A favorite of the stealth campaigners is to have the UN
set up "impact committee reviews" of a particular issue.
These are not committees of an elected body comprised of
popularly elected members. Impact committees, like the
stakeholder councils which are used to strangle landowners'
rights, produce self-serving statements designed to push
legislatures, especially the recalcitrant elected bodies in
the United States, toward the NGO's desired objectives.
A related tactic finds the NGO's "helping" legislatures
produce the politically correct votes. This actually means
that foreigners are lobbying legislative bodies in the U.S.
We are supposed to accept that, but apologize for the
"unilateralism" of the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton,
when he criticizes the UN.
The end game is to capitalize on the growing menace to
our freedom in the growing lawlessness of the US judicial
system. Right now there is a lawsuit against a couple of
federal agencies brought by two NGO's on an environmental
matter. They got the case accepted on the basis of the
unratified (by the US) Kyoto global warming treaty. This
shows where this is all heading -- this is the kind of
international "law" that US courts are willing to accept
instead of the Constitution the judges take an oath to
Regarding firearms, the UN has been frantically seeking
to disarm American citizens. Thanks to John Bolton at the
UN, the US has refused to sign on to global gun registration
treaties. But right now, the UN, working in cahoots with the
BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)
has managed to dry up many gun parts coming into the United
This backdoor gun control has been pulled off in a truly
stealthy fashion. Many firearms factories are in countries
which ill advisedly signed on to a UN gun control agreement
(the Small Arms Treaty). The Treaty enables the UN to
require that ratifying countries and their firearms
companies go through the UN as a clearing house for all
small arms and ammunition sales. Having done this, the UN
now requires that all transactions be done with Euros rather
than US dollars. This has jacked up the price by one third
for guns and ammo orders as far back as three years. The
price increased because Euros are more expensive for holders
of US dollars. This is a stealth attack worthy of currency
manipulator and gun control fanatic, George Soros.
The BATFE has chimed in with further restrictions on what
handguns can be imported. They can easily do this be simply
changing the definition of what is a sporting arm. Since the
BATFE has no technical manuals or procedures written down,
they can be as capricious as they think they can get away
In a related arena, political correctness has probably
driven the destruction by the US military of arms and ammo
found in Iraqi caches. Much of what was found in these
caches could have been sold to reduce the burden of the cost
of the war -- and to lower prices in the US for those items.
We don't really need to reform the UN, as nice as that
sounds. We need to leave the UN and remove it from any
presence in the US. When the US needs to talk to other
countries in any multilateral fashion, we can host a meeting
of ambassadors from countries representing the Coalition of
the Willing. That is true multilateralism, not the perverted
multilateralism that the UN has come to mean. Think of
UN-style multilateralism as a code word for Kofi for World
Historically, think of the matter this way. George III's
kleptocracy sought to sustain itself by assaulting the
freedoms of English colonists in America. Kofi Annan is
simply the political great grandson of England's King George
III. Let's give Kofi a red coat and treat him accordingly.
[My Live Fire interview with Joseph Klein can be
found at http://www.gunowners.org/radio.htm.]
Much Ado About Nothing
The hunting accident that occurred when Vice
President Dick Cheney shot a hunting buddy during a bird
hunt is only of interest because it involved the Vice
Hunting accidents happen every year, although it is also
true that fatal gun accidents of all kind are continuing to
decline. Most recently there have been 770 accidental
firearms deaths per year. This has occurred at the same time
that the number of firearms owned by private citizens in
this country has nearly tripled since 1967 -- a year that
saw 2700 fatal firearms accidents.
To put these numbers into perspective, consider that
there are about 40,000 deaths from automobile accidents each
year. That means that using your car is about 57 times more
likely to kill you than is Dick Cheney's shotgun.
Some are trying to invent a story out of Cheney's failure
to hold a press conference right away. Those same people
don't seem to find any problem with a truly fatal accident
involving another prominent person, Sen. Ted Kennedy of
Massachusetts. Kennedy left the scene of an accident and let
a girl drown. He spent the night trying to figure out what
his story would be.
Perhaps that is why so many of the media have let Kennedy
alone -- at least he held a news conference as soon as he
had his story straight.
Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada has criticized Cheney for not
holding a news conference right away. This is the same
Senator who had a stroke and took three days to say anything
to the media. Again, the Sen. Kennedy rule probably protects
Sen. Reid, since his aides claim that the delay was
occasioned by their desire to have all the tests in so they
would have their story
As long as you were thinking of the media, delay is OK.
It is only inexcusable if you were not thinking first of the
media -- you know, like getting the poor victim of the
accident to the hospital and making sure he was alright.
Other "interesting delays" in our recent history involved
the 30 hours Hillary Clinton needed to contact the media
about the violent death of her law partner/White House
counsel, Vince Foster. Where was the media outrage following
One reporter asked if Gun Owners of America was not
afraid that the Cheney incident would lead to a call for
more gun control. I explained the facts above about
declining accidental firearms fatalities. He responded that,
"Didn't we think that calls for a renewal of the semi-auto
ban (which he incorrectly called 'assault weapons') could
result from this incident?"
All I could do was laugh. What a non-sequitur.
I am not sure that even Sarah Brady would try to make
that stretch, but then, maybe I had better wait a while.
Power tends to corrupt –
even our Founders
By Larry Pratt
April 15, 2006
Most conservatives tend to put the Founders on
Based on what they wrote – both in the Constitution and
in their public statements – much of that honor is deserved.
What is surprising, is how quickly the Founders themselves
forgot their own words, when in power.
Lord Acton is famous for his maxim that "Power tends to
corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." We can be
glad that the Founders designed a government that made it
hard to get absolute power. But, some of the most eloquent
defenders of limited government forgot all the talk, when
they had a chance to do the walk.
The biggest and earliest offender seems to have been
Alexander Hamilton, the author of several of the essays in
the Federalist Papers, which argued for ratification
of the new Constitution (in 1787).
In Federalist 48, Hamilton argued that, regarding
freedom of the press, no powers had been given to the new
government to restrain it:
"For why declare that things shall not be done, which
there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said
that liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no
power is given by which restrictions may
But, the same Alexander Hamilton, in 1798 (about a decade
after writing the above words), supported the Sedition Act,
which made it a crime to criticize a federal official.
Indeed, newspaper editors were clapped in jail for having
had the temerity to question President John Adams.
Critics were alarmed at the claims of the Federalists,
including Hamilton, that the Constitution had implied
powers, which let the new government do just about anything
that Congress had a majority vote to support. A crisis
demanded unanimity in the minds of the Federalists, and the
danger they perceived from the French Revolution was seen as
an immediate crisis.
When Virginia and Kentucky enacted resolutions of
nullification of the Sedition Act (and its companion Alien
Act), the Federalists proclaimed that only the Supreme Court
could overturn an act of Congress. This was an entirely
different view from that expressed by the Federalist writer
Alexander Hamilton, who had even justified using state
militias to restrain federal tyranny!
The Alien and Sedition laws were subject to intense
debate, because of the initiatives of Virginia and Kentucky.
The debate led to John Adams being a one-term President, and
the election of his arch-enemy, Thomas Jefferson. Did the
Federalists see the tyrannical potential of their Sedition
law? Probably so, since it had been set to expire just
before Thomas Jefferson took office. What was okay in the
hands of the Federalists was not going to be handed to their
enemies – the Republicans led by Jefferson.
The New England states all decried the Virginia and
Kentucky Legislatures' resolutions of nullification. But
when the War of 1812 began, they strenuously objected to the
war, on the grounds that their trade with England, and their
livelihood were going down the drain. When attacks on the
British in Canada were attempted, these states withdrew
their militias from federal control. To many in Virginia and
Kentucky, it seemed that the Northern states were now
What a difference a few years made, when the tables had
been turned! For that matter, states such as Virginia and
Kentucky were among the biggest supporters of the War of
1812, and their citizens tended to think of the New
Englanders as treasonous for withdrawing their militias from
the war. Of course, they forgot that they had been viewed as
traitors in 1798, when they tried to nullify the Alien and
It is striking how many of our current debates over what
powers are authorized by the Constitution, are but echoes of
the heated arguments that fill the annals of our early
Republic. The Founders, themselves, had as much trouble
restraining their own greed for power as we do today.
I seldom quote anything from France with approval, but
they do have an excellent saying: "The more it changes, the
more it stays the same."
These events have been masterfully recorded in book by
William Watkins entitled, Reclaiming the American
Revolution: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Their
Legacy. I had the privilege of interviewing Watkins on
my radio show, Live Fire, which is archived on the
Gun Owners of America web site.
Larry Pratt is Executive Director of Gun Owners of
America, a national gun lobby with over 300,000 members,
located at 8001 Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151.
The Imperial Judiciary
Does the Constitution provide for judicial supremacy
through the process of judicial review? Attorney Edwin
Vieira, J.D. answers with an emphatic "No!" in his book
Vieira makes a convincing argument that the Supreme Court
(and other courts as well) have pulled off the equivalent of
a coup d'etat. They believe, and too many Americans
believe with them, that an opinion of the Supreme Court is a
part of the Constitution. If the opinion contradicts the
Constitution, then the Constitution, according to this view,
has been amended. Overlooked is the simple fact that an
unconstitutional decision of the Supreme Court is not worthy
of respect and should be ignored by all other officials who
have taken the same oath of office taken by the judges.
If there are competing interpretations of the
Constitution among officials in different branches of
government, "We the People" are to decide the issue at the
Consider that the Supreme Court has the authority to make
decisions only in those areas We the People have delegated.
A look at Article III of the Constitution does not reveal a
heavy work load for the Supremes: the court has original
jurisdiction in cases involving states as well as diplomats.
All other cases are brought on appeals, and if the lower
courts are eliminated by Congress which has that authority,
that ends the discussion.
The Congress does not need to send a constitutional
amendment to the states when the Court makes an
unconstitutional decision. There is nothing to amend, just
correct by legislation (or impeachment)
No jurisdiction, no cases, no bad decisions. What is
stopping that from happening? The Congress. They have not
used the power they have. Why? Well, two reasons. One is
that "We the People" have not demanded that the members of
Congress act. A second reason is that until We the People
act, the Congress enjoys passing the buck to the Supreme
Court saying, "We have to do this because the Court said
so." This charade will continue until We the People make it
If the Court can indeed amend the Constitution with a
five-to-four majority, are we to believe that the Court can
re-amend by the same vote of five judges the next time
around? You have to agree that, even though this is not in
the Constitution, such power is more efficient than getting
two-thirds of the Congress and three-fourths of the state
legislatures to concur. The only problem seems to be that
the Supremes are acting outside the law. No wonder they want
us to believe in an evolving Constitution (as long as they
are the agents of evolution).
One of the excuses for the audacious claim to amending
the Constitution by judicial fiat is reference to foreign
law and international morality. This, of course, can mean
anything a judge wishes to say it means. Who is to interpret
what foreign law? That of Cuba? France? Iran? Whose
morality? Kofi Anan and the UN kleptocrats? Or perhaps the
thugs ruling China? Yet the Supreme Court has used this
fiction to attack the capital punishment laws of the states
with absolutely no authority to rule in this area. Again,
the Congress needs to strip the ability to bring such cases
to the lower courts (if not eliminating those courts
If foreign law can be used to legalize sexual behavior
that has been illegal in the states and progressively
eliminate capital punishment, it is only a matter of time
until the Court decides that:
* euthanasia is legal (after all, the Dutch think it's
* search and seizure protections are replaced by the
greater interests of the state to invade our privacy (works
for the Chinese Communists),
* political dissent is stifled (Castro tolerates none of
* firearms ownership is reserved for those working for
the government or who belong to select hunting clubs (just
like England and most other countries of the world).
Second Amendment supporters should be aware that the 1997
Brady Law decision by the Supreme Court (Printz v. U.S.)
includes a minority opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer. He
argued that the Court should have decided the case by
looking at the comparative experiences of other countries.
In other words, the thought that foreign law could trump the
Second Amendment has already been polished by the
foreign-law loving members of the Court.
Vieira puts gun control in an interesting perspective by
comparing the notion that "gun control" is permitted by the
Second Amendment the same way as "occupational control" is
permitted by the Thirteenth Amendment which abolishes
I interviewed Edwin Vieira on my Live Fire radio
show (archived at http://www.gunowners.org/radio.htm). His
book, How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary, is
available at newswithviews.com.