Wolf Trap – Act I – Habeas Corpus – Scene 1 – Limited Federal Jurisdiction

Wolf Trap – Act I – Habeas Corpus
Scene 1 – Limited Federal Jurisdiction

please-do-not-enter-without-Constitutional Authority

Gary Hunt
Outpost of Freedom
May 22, 2015

Setting the Scene: This Act is a series of scenes that will lead up to the events, the paper chase, that are going on in Montana, in an effort to persuade the Court to recognize that rights of William wolf and the limitations of federal authority, as conceived by the Founders. It will provide an understanding of what was, why it was, and what happened to deceive us into believing that it no longer existed. It will conclude with the ongoing effort to restore the proper relationship between the federal government and us.

* * *

From my early school years, I heard explanations pertaining to Habeas Corpus, the “Sacred Writ”. It could be used to remove you from unlawful detention; it could be written on a scrap of paper to be served; it could be served, on your behalf, by anyone who wanted to assist you in being removed from unlawful detention, and, perhaps even more. It was championed as fundamental to our liberty. However, little more was said of it, and it remained only as a mental symbol of something that, though not well explained, was one of the most important inclusions in the Constitution. So important that it was not included in the Bill of Rights, rather, it was part of that first venture into the creation of the new government that we have, today, the Constitution.

Understanding that circumstances might warrant the suspension of that “Sacred Writ”, the power to do so was left solely to the Legislative Branch of the government, and only “in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”

Interestingly, this fits nicely within that portion of the Fourth Amendment that states that you have a right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” against you. But, what do “nature” and “cause” mean? So, we will visit the language of the Founders; from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, we find that “nature” is a noun, and that the appropriate definition is, ” The essence, essential qualities or attributes of a thing, which constitute it; what it is”. So, nature is the element (essence) from which the charges are brought. The “cause” is, quite simply, that which brings it about — the act.

So, the “cause” is the act that brings about the charges, and the nature is the source from which the law acquires its authority. And, in any act, for which a “cause” is brought by the federal government, it must also have a source of authority, that being only, and limited to, the Constitution. The Constitution provides for both authority of enactment of laws and limitations upon the jurisdiction within which it can apply those laws and impose penalties, if convicted of the act.

After all, we know that the Constitution was written to set limits upon the government that was created by that document. They granted to that government so created, both powers and authorities, and they imposed limitations upon it.

Most cases that go to the United States Supreme Court are based upon certiorari; that is to see if there were irregularities, or errors, at trial in the inferior court. These writs deal solely with whether the applicable laws, or standards of justice (due process), were properly applied. The decisions in such cases often have the appearance of creating not only detailed instruction as to interpretation of a law, rule, or regulation, but also often they go beyond that written law, serving to extend the authority of such law beyond that was intended by the Congress, when it was enacted. This, however, is based upon the presumption that it if a law is enacted by, or under the authority (rules and regulations), of Congress, it must be constitutional in its enactment.

What is does not do, at least in recent years, is question whether the law, even if constitutionally enacted, is imposed where the constitutional limitations preclude its applicability, i.e. jurisdiction.

Before we proceed further, perhaps understanding what a “writ” is, and what it is not, is necessary for perspective. It is not a court case, nor a lawsuit, nor a criminal prosecution against a person. Quite simply, it is “a form of written command in the name of a court or other legal authority to act, or abstain from acting, in some way.”

Limited federal Jurisdiction

Under Article I, § 8, clause 17, Congress has “exclusive legislative jurisdiction”. Under Article IV, § 3, clause 2, Congress may “make all needed Rules and Regulations”, with the caveat, “respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.” So, under these authorities, many ‘laws” are enacted that apply only to the extent that jurisdiction also applies. A good example of this is a law enacted in 1825 that gave the government the authority to punish “certain crimes against the United States”. We’ll let the act speak for itself:

“That if any person or persons, within any fort, dock-yard, navy-yard, arsenal, armory, or magazine, the site whereof is ceded to, and under the jurisdiction of the United States, or on a site of any lighthouse, or other needful building belonging to the United States, the sight whereof is ceded to them [United States], and under their jurisdiction, as aforesaid, shall, willfully…”

Take note that this does not apply to government property outside of that limited jurisdiction. The property must be to be on lands that are ceded and jurisdiction also ceded, within the authority granted by the Constitution.

For those interested, there are a number of Supreme Court decisions that support the requirement for a Constitutional nexus for an enactment of Congress to be valid and applicable, outside of that limited jurisdiction. These can be found in the article, “Habeas Corpus – The Guardian of Liberty“.

Now, what we have been taught and have been inclined to believe for our entire lives, is eviscerated, if we heed a decision of the Supreme Court, In Re Lane (135 U.S. 443), ruled on in 1890, in which a man was charged with rape, under federal law. The rape took place in the Oklahoma (Indian) Territory (unorganized), though the case was tried in Kansas (statehood in 1861). Lane was convicted and imprisoned in Kansas. Kansas punishment being less harsh, Lane attempted to challenge federal jurisdiction, opting to be punished under Kansas law.

The law under which he was charged and convicted of, had the jurisdictional, “in the District of Columbia or other place, except the territories, over which the United States has exclusive jurisdiction,” in its wording. Now, that wording, “other place, except the territories, over which the United States has exclusive jurisdiction” can appear to be misleading. However, the Court clarified that rather confusing statement by explaining that “except territories”, was not in the context of Article IV, § 3, clause 2 (needful rules and regulations), but rather, as those organized territories, seeking statehood — those which had been granted, by Congress, the authority to propose a constitution and to create Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches, and were authorized to enact laws, administer them, and the judicial branch to provide a forum for justice. These same grants of authority were endowed upon the states, within the limits of the state constitution, by adoption of the state constitution and the granting of statehood. The extent of federal jurisdiction, the laws, rules, and regulations, was limited solely to the unorganized territories.

Supreme Court (and Inferior Courts) Don’t Want to Rule on Constitutionality

In 1936, the Supreme Court ruled on a case known as Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority (297 U.S. 288). The details of the case are not something that we need concern ourselves with, though we must heed the words of Justice Brandeis, as he explained the seven rules that the Court had adopted in applying their judicial authority. The applicable rules are:

1.  The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of legislation in a friendly, nonadversary, proceeding, declining because to decide such questions ‘is legitimate only in the last resort

4.  The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the record, if there is also present some other ground upon which the case may be disposed of… Thus, if a case can be decided on either of two grounds, one involving a constitutional question, the other a question of statutory construction or general law, the Court will decide only the latter

5.  The Court will not pass upon the validity of a statute upon complaint of one who fails to show that he is injured by its operation.

6.  The Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of a statute at the instance of one who has availed himself of its benefits.

7.  ‘When the validity of an act of the Congress is drawn in question, and even if a serious doubt of constitutionality is raised, it is a cardinal principle that this Court will first ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided.

As we can see, Rules 1, 4 and 7, are means by which the Court can avoid ruling on the constitutionality of a matter before them.

Rule 5 provides for a condition upon which one must have been injured to even challenge a statute, even as to constitutionality and jurisdiction. And, Rule 6 provides a bar against challenge, if a person “has availed himself of its benefits”.

So, we can see how extremely difficult it is to question constitutionality, jurisdiction, or to even find that you are in a position to challenge the lawfulness, of any act of Congress. But, we also have to understand the “nature” of those “statutes” referred to in the Rules.

In the Ashwander decision, it was pointed out that the Rules had been adopted over the past few decades, so this was really nothing new. Administrative agencies, though few at the time (Tennessee Valley Authority was one such agency), were relatively new. However, in an effort to expand constitutional authority beyond the limits imposed by the Constitution, and based upon the adoption of those Rules, Congress took another step, in 1946, to expand their authority beyond those limits. That will be the subject of Scene 2.