A report issued by author and attorney Harvey A. Silverglate indicates that the United States now has so many restrictive laws and regulations that Americans commit an average of three felonies a day without knowing it.
Silverglate's book titled "Three Felonies a Day" takes a critical look at the Justice Dept. and is available for purchase at his website.
The upshot of the book is that the U.S. government has now loaded up the books with so many laws, restrictions, regulations, and mandates, that not only is it impossible for citizens to know them all but it is impossible to live a full day of normal activities without committing at least one or more criminal acts, to the tune of an average of three felonies a day.
This means at least two things, one being that most of these laws are never enforced, and two being that should it decide to enforce them the government could legally place as many citizens as it wanted under arrest and taken to jail pending trial.
Perhaps this is the most ominous and frightening aspect of the growing power of the federal government. We are all felons. And, as we have been told time and again by various government and law enforcement entities, being ignorant of the law is no excuse for breaking it.
Kevin at the blog The Smallest Minority has done a complete and thorough examination of this issue and has come to a dire conclusion. In the eyes of the 21st century U.S. government, we have no rights. And this means our very government itself is well along the path to complete lawlessness.
The consequences of this state of affairs cannot be overstated. If the government is held in the grip of lawlessness, and if all of its citizens are viewed as pawns who not only have no rights but who are felons and criminals, the day is coming, and soon, when the proverbial "stuff" hits the fan in a major way. That is the day of mass incarcerations, bloodshed, and mayhem.
Kevin provides a plethora of examples of what's coming to our land based upon what is already happening across America. Prosecuting attorneys make arbitrary decisions on who to bring up on charges and who to leave alone. Judges who sit on the bench are as corrupt as the people they throw in jail. Law enforcement officers are becoming as dangerous to average citizens as Mafia hitmen.
But the key to understanding the growing lawlessness is the mortal danger posed by the legal system that has loaded up the books with so many laws, that any prosecutor anywhere could conceivably decide to go after any one of us and then conveniently scan the U.S. Code to decide which felony he/she wishes to pin on us.
Law professor Glenn Reynolds wrote a piece for the Columbia Law Review last year, which stated,
Prosecutorial discretion poses an increasing threat to justice. The threat has in fact grown more severe to the point of becoming a due process issue. Two recent events have brought more attention to this problem. One involves the decision not to charge NBC anchor David Gregory with violating gun laws. In Washington D.C., brandishing a thirty-round magazine is illegal and can result in a yearlong sentence. Nonetheless, the prosecutor refused to charge Gregory despite stating that the on-air violation was clear. The other event involves the government’s rather enthusiastic efforts to prosecute Reddit founder Aaron Swartz for downloading academic journal articles from a closed database. Authorities prosecuted Swartz so vigorously that he committed suicide in the face of a potential fifty-year sentence.
Both cases have aroused criticism. In Swartz's case, a congresswoman has even proposed legislation designed to ensure that violating a website's terms cannot be prosecuted as a crime. But the problem is much broader. Given the vast web of legislation and regulation that exists today, virtually any American bears the risk of being targeted for prosecution.
Attorney General (and later Supreme Court Justice) Robert Jackson once commented: "If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows he can choose his defendants." This method results in "[t]he most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted." Prosecutors could easily fall prey to the temptation of "picking the man, and then searching the law books . . . to pin some offense on him." In short, prosecutors' discretion to charge—or not to charge—individuals with crimes is a tremendous power, amplified by the large number of laws on the books.
Prosecutors themselves understand just how much discretion they enjoy. As Tim Wu recounted in 2007, a popular game in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York was to name a famous person—Mother Teresa, or John Lennon—and decide how he or she could be prosecuted:
It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict him or her. The crimes were not usually rape, murder, or other crimes you’d see on Law & Order but rather the incredibly broad yet obscure crimes that populate the U.S. Code like a kind of jurisprudential minefield: Crimes like "false statements" (a felony, up to five years), "obstructing the mails" (five years), or "false pretenses on the high seas" (also five years). The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the toughest sentences. The, result, however, was inevitable: "prison time."
It need not be said that by the time the American government has reached this deplorable state of affairs, the Founders' Republic is already over. It's gone. Destroyed.
The next step will by widespread civil disobedience, even violence. When government turns violent in attempting to enforce its lawlessness on unsuspecting citizens, it would be foolish to expect any response in return except for violence. Violence begets violence.
Ayn Rand stated in her milestone novel "Atlas Shrugged,"
There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that's the system!
It would not be overstating the case to assert that when Rand penned these words to be spoken by a character her novel, she was acting in the role of a prophet. Her prophetic warning is happening right before our eyes.
Winston Churchill once stated that if you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. Loss of respect for the law leads to mass civil disobedience on the part of the populace. Such widespread disobedience leads to the complete demise of a system of government.
And, as several of our Founding Fathers asserted, a government that passes laws that violate the spirit and letter of the Constitution loses the moral authority to govern, and the people are not obligated to obey it.
My latest entry is now available at my blog at The Liberty Sphere under the section, "Musings After Midnight." It is titled, "The latest news from the underground patriot movement, including warnings of more gov't harassment of conservatives, libertarians, and gun owners."
Read one of my most popular entries on my blog in the popular series, Musings After Midnight, titled, "The Stealth War."
My series "Musings After Midnight" is now indexed at my blog, The Liberty Sphere.
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