His PhD. not withstanding, Stephen A. Flick penned a letter, “Putting the Judiciary in its place,” strewn with historical inaccuracies.
Flick’s assertion that four of 27 charges in the Declaration of Independence were somehow aimed at judges and courts is false.
All charges in the Declaration were leveled against George III. The four Flick referenced are eight, nine, 15, and 18.
Charge Eight states that the king “obstructed administration of justice by refusing his assent to laws for establishing the judiciary.”
Charge Nine says the king “has made judges dependent on his will alone.”
Charge 15 addressed a provision of the Intolerable Acts, which moved trials of British soldiers accused of committing crimes in the colonies to England.
Charge 18 accused the king of “depriving us (colonists) of the benefit of trial by jury.”
In each case, the charge is not a criticism of the judiciary; instead, it is a charge that the legitimate power of the judiciary was diminished by executive overreach.
Flick’s claim that Marbury vs. Madison and Dred Scott vs. Sanford are prime examples of Supreme Court decisions nullified by the president is also false.
Marbury vs. Madison is the case that established the principle of judicial review, which empowers the Supreme Court to declare laws passed by Congress unconstitutional.
Chief Justice John Marshall tossed his cousin, President Thomas Jefferson, a crumb by ruling against Marbury when he overturned a provision of the Judiciary Act of 1789. In doing so, he established the principle of judicial review, which in essence made the judiciary equal in power to the Legislative and Executive branches.
In Dred Scott vs. Sanford, the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were not citizens. While Lincoln played a key role in the abolition of slavery (Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment), he played no role in granting citizenship to the people who had been enslaved. This was done in the 14th Amendment, which was not ratified until 1868, three years after Lincoln’s death.
If Mr. Flick expects us to buy his premise that the judicial branch of government was never meant to have the power it has now, he needs to present an argument that is not riddled with historical inaccuracies.
Susan S. Fowler