From The People To Empire; Or, Why We Are Doomed: Part III– Guest Post by Ianto Watt

Here’s how the concept of Judicial Review came to be. There was this guy named Marbury, and he had been appointed as a Justice of the Peace in the closing hours of the Adams Presidency. But the new government of Thomas Jefferson (under Secretary of State Madison) refused to deliver the title to the appointment. So Marbury sued the Federal government. The facts were on his side, and so was the law. The law in this case was the Judiciary Act of 1789, which gave the courts the power to issue a writ of mandamus. What’s that? It’s an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.

Here was the magical part. By claiming that this power (granted by Congress) in the Judiciary Act of 1789 wasn’t specified in the Constitution, the Supremes (led by Chief Justice John Marshall) ruled that they didn’t have the Constitutional authority to issue that same writ of mandamus! And in the confusion that followed, several mistakes were made by everyone.

First, the Supremes said they did not have the power to order the Presidency around. And Constitutionally speaking, they were right, in a way. But since the Legislative branch had given this power to the Judiciary subsequent to the ratification of the Constitution, it makes sense that the Courts could properly order an underling of the President to obey the law passed by Congress. If the Court didn’t fulfill this duty given them by Congress, then that would vault the Presidency above Congress. And none of the Founding Deists (who were all still alive) wanted that. That would be too much like a King! After all, it wasn’t like the Courts were making new law on their own—no, they were simply staying within the literal bounds of the Constitution. As it was on Day One. And not one minute past then.

Let’s think about this. It was definitely the Supreme Court’s job to rule when a law had been broken. But if the law had indeed been broken, there had to be some mechanism to force the law-breaker into compliance. Even if that law-breaker was the President! And that mechanism was the Judiciary Act of 1789. The tool of that power was the writ of mandamus. It had been granted to the Courts, in a legally and constitutionally binding manner in the same year that the Constitution was enacted. So, if this power-grant by Congress was so damned un-constitutional, why didn’t the Supreme Court ‘review’ that same law in 1789? It’s not like they had a backlog of cases, right?

Here’s why they didn’t. It’s because they had no motive to do so. Official or otherwise. But soon enough, a motive would arise. A personal and political motive. Not a constitutional one. So let’s look closely at how this thing shook out. On the surface, we had a situation wherein the Judiciary seemed to be demurring the acceptance of additional power. Sounds humble, right? Sure. Except this demurral created a de facto Kingship in the Presidency. The President could, evidently, ignore any law Congress passed if the President felt like it, and even if the Courts ruled he did that illegally, there would be no way to force him to comply.

We now know the real outcome of this little shell game. Because the real result of this scam was not to defer to the Presidency (thus increasing its power), but rather to diminish the power of both the Legislature and the Presidency. After all, if the Courts could now say in any case before it that ‘the law itself was invalid’, then guess who just won the jackpot? No, it wasn’t the Presidency. Why not? Because this same power of nullification could (and would) be used against the Presidency. And always against the Legislature. And the States as well.

It’s simple. Let’s say Congress passes a law, and the Supremes let it stand. But when the Executive branch tries to enforce it (which after all, is its job), the Supremes rule that the Executive’s methods of enforcement are unconstitutional! Pretty slick, eh? The Supremes can either rule a law itself is unconstitutional, or the particular enforcement of it is unconstitutional. Check and mate, mate. Get the picture? No wonder they are called the Supremes.

I’m sure a lot of folks are going to start barking about my suspicions of human intentions, conflating them with conspiracy theories. They will claim (with no proof) that there was no such attempt to counteract the framers’ Original Intentions, as the strict constructionists would say. And you know what? At the purely human level, they are probably right. I don’t think there was such a (human) intention to derail the entire invention of American constitutional law and jurisprudence. But that doesn’t mean that the venal acts of a few can’t have large-scale effects that they never foresaw. And it doesn’t mean it wasn’t foreseen by somebody else. I’ve said it before, so I’ll say it again, to the consternation of those who can’t see anything they literally can’t see: there’s more to this game that meets the eye. Never forget the gods!

Yes, the gods could see the logical outcome of such a human judicial finding. A perfect opportunity to derail the train at any point in the future. Who wouldn’t go for this kind of chit in the original game of Judicial Warfare? These guys aren’t stupid, you know. But human surely are. And greedy too. And that’s how this whole thing came to pass.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about why the Human Supremes made this convoluted ruling. There probably was no vast overarching plan to overturn the Constitution. Nope. But there was a conspiracy. A rather small one. Just two people, and they didn’t even have to actively plan it. All they had to do was act in their own personal interests, which happened to coincide. It was a little bit of brotherly love, my friend.

Bear with me here. Justice Marshall was acting at this very same time as both the Chief Justice and the Secretary of State under the new Jefferson administration (as delegated by Madison, the actual Secretary of State). So it was a case of Marbury vs Marshall, if we really want to be accurate. Guess who it was that was originally tasked with the duty to deliver this contested commission of the office of Justice of the Peace to Mr. Marbury? Well, whadd’ya know, it was the brother of Chief Justice-Secretary of State Marshall, James Marshall. And guess who might be legally liable for not delivering this same said commission? Yep, little brother Jimmy.

That little personal family problem also happened to intersect with the political life of the Marshall clan. More to the point, Chief Justice Marshall was acting in political lock-step with the Jefferson administration when he decided to refuse to command his brother to deliver the commission. But he did all of this while also wearing his Constitutional robe, deciding in favor of his family and party and against Marbury and The People. Shazzam.

The rest is history. Bad history. This total inversion of the original intention of the Constitutional structure of American government set off a power struggle that continues to this day. Here’s the funny thing to me. Why hasn’t any President ever declared some ruling of the Court to be ‘unconstitutional’? And why hasn’t Congress ever done the same, using the power of appellate review I mentioned earlier? Either action would have at least as much legality behind it, or more, than the whole-cloth invention of Marbury vs Madison. Has everyone been asleep for 213 years? Am I the only one that can see this?

To be fair, historically speaking, there has been lots of action between 1804 and today. The most important came with the accession of President Lincoln to the Pantheon of Caesar. Lincoln did his part to subdue the courts by suspending Habeas Corpus, and attempting to arrest the Chief Justice. The Court seems to have gotten the message. Lincoln then set about neutering Congress by ignoring anything they said. And the stupid Southerners made the fatal mistake of allowing those silly cadets to fire the first shots at Ft Sumter. That took the leash off the dogs of war.

That left Lincoln with the only chips that really count at times like those, the Army. Which he gladly used in his mad pursuit of total power. While Julius committed the gravest sin possible against the Republic of Rome by illegally bringing armed troops across the Rubicon, inside the actual district of Rome, without the consent of the Senate, Lincoln did the converse. He illegally sent troops across the Potomac, outside the Capital district into the sovereign States without the explicit consent of those States. Game on.

A final bit of history. Nobody ever bothers to read the original Constitution. Yes, the Articles of Confederation. The first American Constitution. If they did, they would know that it explicitly stated that this union of sovereign states would be ‘a perpetual union‘. Yet this union was dissolved peaceably by these same states as they withdrew from the Articles of Confederation when they adopted the new Constitution. The new Constitution made absolutely so no such claim to indissolubility. And in fact, a majority of states ratifying this new Constitution did so with the explicit statement that they reserved their sovereign right to secede at any time in the future. After all, that’s what sovereignty is all about, right Komrade? Well, no, not according to Caesar Abraham. He wasn’t going to preside over some rump state nation. Hell no. After all, he was (or would soon be) Caesar! We all know the rest of the story. Glorious Lincoln. And every American President pays him his first homage, whether he be Republican or Democrat. Until Emperor Donald!

Anyway, once Dishonest Abe decided he was King, it was lights out for the sovereign States. Think of the Civil War as the Big C-Section that gave birth to The Empire. The result is now we’re all equal. Equally enslaved. The final bit of evil, the last thrust of the dagger into the body of the Republic, came in 1913 with the re-establishment of the Federal Reserve system (which Jackson had abolished), the imposition of the hated Income Tax (which the Supremes had ruled unconstitutional several times years before), and the final coup de grâce, the destruction of the meaning of the States themselves. Yes, the imposition of the direct election of Senators by The People (versus their appointment by the States) made the concept of State Sovereignty a moot point. The last checks on the powers of the new Federalized, unitary, centralized, and voracious State were gone. Out of the cloud of confusion surrounding this magic trick known as Marbury vs Madison emerged The Empire. Hail Caesar!

What is my point? It’s pretty simple my friend. The Constitution is dead. Has been for a long time. There’s no turning back, because all of the bridges have been burned by Caesar. We’re all prisoners now. Equally enslaved. All of this has been given to us by factional political actions. Self-interested groups that have no interest in anything beyond their own self-interest. But hey, this isn’t an exclusively American thing. No, this is how it always goes. Once you get rid of the King, this is what happens. Everybody starts jockeying for position, place, and, most of all, for power. It’s human nature. Fallen human nature. And it will never stop until the end. The end? The end of what? Time, silly. Till the final iteration of The Empire, in all its gory glory. It seems that we’re closing in on that point in time. But Hell, it could take another 100 years. Seriously. I don’t see the technological grasp matching the Imperial reach for at least another twenty-five years or so. A lot can happen in that time, including setbacks to the hubris of the gods, and men. But eventually, we (or our children) will get there. And won’t that be swell, eh?

In the meantime, what is the real point of this missive? It’s simple, Komrade. No matter how hard men try to set up some kind of alternative to the original Mosaic religious/political system that is pure and just, it is bound to fail. Why? Because of the players, silly. Forget Artificial Intelligence. We don’t even have real intelligence. All we have is our continuous rebellions against every form of government dreamed up by anyone but ourselves. It’s not hard to see why we rebel. Because each system that has replaced the original Monarchy of God is bound to fall short of perfection. And the resulting injustices that rebellion produced brings forth the call for another ‘reform’.

Well, if I’m so damned smart, what do I think we should do? After all, I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture, haven’t I? I’ve said the Republic is dead, and the rot has irreversibly set in, correct? So, what could anyone possibly do to reverse this course? Nothing, actually. As far as bringing the corpse back to life, that is. After all, we’re not dealing with a religious question here. At least, not a Christian religious question. The Messiah never said he would visit three times. Twice will be plenty, according to His word. And I take Him at His word. That’s crucial to my understanding of where we are now, and what remains to be accomplished. Because until we, as Christians, finally understand the difference between Holy Rome and Imperial Rome, we will continue to be fooled by The Lie sold to Sgt. Alvin York. The lie that says our foreign forays are the moral equivalent of the Crusades. And that we must invest our blood for the saving of Caesar. And that the fate of the entire world depends upon this secular task.

And actually, it does. But that is a bad fate, an evil one, for a bad world, an evil one. The world of Caesar. But if we want to regain our sanity, we must distinguish between the Catacombs and the Pantheon. They are not the same, and we have no means of entering the latter. Why would we want to? Do we really want to advance the cause of the gods? Because that is exactly what we are doing as we fail to see that our secular problems have no secular answers. And that the world rejects the real answers to our real problems.

Am I saying all is lost, and that there is absolutely nothing that can be done, here and now, to benefit our country and her citizens? No, I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is this: we have to realize that the natural progression of man is in a downward slide. Evolution of man, whether from a scientific, artistic, intellectual and yes, even (and especially) the political standpoint, has been shown to be a fraud. A fraud as dead as the supposedly-living Republic. And this downward slide will continue until the final confrontation between the Acolytes of God and the Mammonites of Caesar.

That doesn’t mean we have to give up. If we can reject The Empire, we can still work for Our Country. We can still have a positive effect on the rate of decline, the rate of the rot that is decomposing the body politic. Because God can always squeeze some good out of our bad past. Here is how. We must still participate in the electoral process. Yes, it is imperfect. Just look at Donald. But there is still a lot that good people can accomplish, especially at the local level of the political spectrum. That is what we must do. Why? Because the power to influence the course of events, however minimally, at whatever level, is a gift that we must not waste. At least, not if we value our children. And theirs.

Yes, there is another thing that we can do that will be of lasting benefit for ourselves and others that we may have an influence on. I think we all might be smart to brush up on our manners. Eh? You know, our courtly manners. You know, bows and curtseys. Genuflections, too! After all, regardless of whether you believe in Heaven or Hell, the visible manifestation of all the final concentration of Imperial human power, in all its eventual global and gory glory, is coming soon. Because Caesar is growing ever stronger. And Caesar wants his due. Even Jesus says to give him his due. So get ready to kneel. Whether it’s Donald or Vlad (or both, in tandem), it’s coming soon. Maybe within our children’s lifetimes.

For those who can see the unseen, here’s another interesting thought that might make my advice about courtly manners more apropos. Heaven is not going to be a republic. And neither is Hell.


  1. Glenn

    I am a regular reader of the Statistician to the Stars and usually enjoy the articles posted here. While I think that judicial review has become a monster and has done great damage to the Republic I would also like to point out that judicial review was not made up whole-cloth in Marbury vs Madison. The precedent came from England in the days leading up to the English Revolution when Edward Coke was trying to save the English Common Law (please see “Bonham’s Case: The Ghost in the Constitutional Machine”).

    Some comments on Lincoln’s suspension of Habeas Corpus are also in order. The implication that Lincoln had no authority to suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus is just plain wrong. I can’t get into all the issues but I would recommend the article “Lincoln’s Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus: An Historical and Constitutional Analysis” for an excellent analysis of the issues involved. This quote from the paper makes an important point:

    “Under the Constitution the federal government can unquestionably suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus if the public safety requires it during times of rebellion or invasion. The issue is whether Congress or the president holds this power.”

    There was no “accession of President Lincoln to the Pantheon of Caesar”.

    Also the implication that it was a bunch of out of control college kids (“silly cadets”) that fired the shots at Fort Sumter is such a poor analysis of the situation in 1861 it brings the rest of your article into question. The South wasn’t going to let Lincoln be their President no matter what (check out “What Caused Secession and Ergo the Civil War? Was It Slavery and/or States’ Rights? Or Wasn’t It Rather Something Else — the Election of a Ghastly Republican to the White House?”) and you can’t shift the blame onto some silly cadets for a bombardment of a U.S. military installation that lasted over 32 hours.

    Glenn Weller

  2. Ken

    “… each system that has replaced the original Monarchy of God is bound to fall short of perfection.”
    – I. Watt

    “…some kind of alternative to the original Mosaic religious/political system that is pure and just, it is bound to fail.”
    – I. Watt

    What was that “perfect” “pure and just” “original Mosaic religious/political system” like, the system that Watt [and presumably Briggs] seem to be wistfully endorsing:

    – polygamy
    – eye-for-an-eye justice
    – mysogyny (rape victim might be forced to marry the rapist…and much more)
    – the end of the BLT sandwich (pork is verboten)
    – slavery
    – etc., etc. …

    That would look very similar to Sharia law today, at least where that’s allowed to blossom to its fullest (e.g. under Al Qaeda).

    Does anyone truly believe that a return to such ways would be an improvement? Or that such can be considered truly “pure” or “just” much less both “pure and just”????

  3. DG

    Nice outline Ianto on how the U.S. government has gradually become more authoritarian. It’s interesting that you bring up the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution that we now have after the Rev. War and the legal right for states to secede. I ought do some research on this. Keep up the good work!

  4. John Morris

    These were good think pieces. One nit to pick though. Not sure if the references to the “Founding Deists” is tongue in cheek, but if I’m not sure that means many will read it as an endorsement of the common Prog slander.

    Glenn Beck is off his nut, but the work he has been doing with David Barton to locate and make available the original works of the Founders makes it pretty unmistakable where their religious sympathies were. And it was pretty explicitly Christian. Hundreds of examples covering pretty much everybody who signed any of the founding documents.

    Personally I’m agnostic, but facts are facts and I understand the reason the Progs are trying to rewrite the history books.

  5. DG

    Yeh it’s interesting!

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