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Fortnight For Freedom: Abraham Lincoln on Supreme Court Decisions

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 

Some quotes from Abraham Lincoln in how to react to illegitimate Supreme Court decisions.  An illegitimate decision is one in which the Court arrogates to itself the power of a legislature under the mendacious guise of merely interpreting the Constitution:

 

 

1.  I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case, upon the parties to a suit; as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the government.

2.  Judicial decisions have two uses-first, to absolutely determine the case decided, and secondly, to indicate to the public how other similar cases will be decided when they arise. For the latter use, they are called “precedents” and “authorities.”

3.  We think its (the Supreme Court) decisions on Constitutional questions, when fully settled, should control, not only the particular cases decided, but the general policy of the country, subject to be disturbed only by amendments of the Constitution as provided in that instrument itself. More than this would be revolution.

4.  At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties, in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

5.  Judicial decisions are of greater or less authority as precedents, according to circumstances. That this should be so, accords both with common sense, and the customary understanding of the legal profession.

6.  If this important decision had been made by the unanimous concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent partisan bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation, and with the steady practice of the departments throughout our history, and had been in no part, based on assumed historical facts which are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed and re-affirmed through a course of years, it then might be, perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, to not acquiesce in it as a precedent.

7.  But when, as it is true we find it wanting in all these claims to the public confidence, it is not resistance, it is not factious, it is not even disrespectful, to treat it as not having yet quite established a settled doctrine for the country.

8.  But we think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that made it, has often over-ruled its own decisions, and we shall do what we can to have it to over-rule this.

 

 

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

3 Comments

  1. I was beyond angry when Obama brazenly attacked the SC at his SOTU speech. Now I which he had gone further.

  2. Good post. The Dred Scott Justices, the Abortion Justices and the Sodomy Justices will all one day stand before that Supreme Justice from whom there is no escape.

  3. This is some more comment re how Lincoln dealt with the S Ct. We appear to going down this road again.

    Honoring the Holy Innocents of America: The American Address

    Catholic Lane July 28,, 2015
    by Guy McClung, J.D., Ph.D.

    The 1857 SupremeCcourt Dred Scott decision said that Dred Scott, his wife, and their unborn child were not human beings, but were property to be bought and sold. Led by proslavery Chief Justice Roger Taney, the Court created a new national constitutional right to own slaves. Taney, a Democrat and a Roman Catholic, was born on a tobacco slave plantation, and was a former slave owner.

    Abraham Lincoln rejected the Dred Scott decision and rejected the Court’s ability to declare that certain human beings were subhuman. He denied that the Court could resolve and decide the meaning of the Constitution for the other coequal branches of the government or for all the people. Lincoln considered the Dred Scott decision lawless. He rejected the assumed supremacy of what he saw as a renegade Court, and therefore believed that the decision was non-binding on the executive and legislative branches. President Lincoln and the U.S. Congress, and many of the people, not only defied Taney and the Supreme Court, they refused to obey the decision.

    Their defiance led to the Civil War.

    In the summer of 1863, in the costliest of battles in terms of loss of life, over 50,000 soldiers from both sides died at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Now in America, the number of dead aborted children here exceeds by over a thousand times the number of dead at Gettysburg. Ironically, today the majority of the dead are minority children – over seventeen million of them are African-American – and many of these dead children are descendants of those for whom the Civil War was fought and won. In the Fall of 1863 President Lincoln went to dedicate a cemetery to the dead soldiers of Gettysburg. The words he spoke there have become known as The Gettysburg Address. Here is:

    The American Address

    A dozen score years ago our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, dedicated to the proposition that all men, women and children are created equal; and founded on the principle that they are all endowed, not by any government, not by any Constitution, not by any law, but endowed by their Creator with the inalienable right to life.
    Now we are engaged in a great civil conflict, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met at great battlefields of that conflict, in cities and towns across America, at the killing chambers of Planned Parenthood, and at numerous other death dealers whose business is abortion. We have come to dedicate a portion of these cities as the final resting places of thousands of innocent children who give their tiny lives; we are come to dedicate their unmarked graves, the dumpsters, the toilets, the biological waste incinerators, and the garbage cans that receive them. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — the ground across America where they have died and where more will die. The children, who struggle, suffer, cry out with silent screams, and die have consecrated this land far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget that the children have been and will continue to be killed here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which the children who die here have thus far so nobly advanced, the work they have begun in their small way, dying with their tiny voices unheard. But we hear them.

    It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead and living unborn children we take increased devotion to that cause for which they give the last full measure of devotion; that we here solemnly vow that no more children’s lives are taken in this Land of Freedom, this Land Of Life . That we here highly resolve that all these children have not died in vain in this American Holocaust– that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, including all the people, even the smallest people now warm and happy within their mothers wombs, that this nation, these people, and these children shall not perish from the earth.

    – See more at: http://www.catholiclane.com/the-american-address/#sthash.zurZ83cD.dpuf

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