Judge Or King?

Somewhere on the Missouri River in America

In the Old Testament (Jewish Tanakh) in 1 Samuel 8 we have the interesting story of how the people of Israel were tired of being ruled by judges and desired to have a king instead:

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

[The Lord said to Samuel] “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. … and you yourselves will become his slaves. ...”

And that is kind of what happened. Be careful what you wish for!

In America today it seems like we are teetering between these same two options. On the one hand the office of the President has acquired more and more power to rule by decree (executive orders), and judges have become bolder and bolder in asserting their right to declare just about anything they don’t like as “un-Constitutional,” most recently in the case of President Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

Seems like we are seeing the worst of both worlds at times!

Has everyone forgotten that the original intention was limited government with built-in checks and balances to prevent any of the three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) from becoming too powerful? We are supposed to have a government ruled by written laws. Those laws should be enacted by representatives of the people and only by those representatives. Those representatives are supposed to guard that power jealously, neither allowing presidents nor judges (or bureaucrats) to assume the power to legislate outside the limited powers delegated to them.

Today it seems that regardless of where many sit on the political spectrum they will cheer when the President or a Federal judge rules or orders in a direction they favor with little thought as to whether that person should have the power to do so.

Regardless of your politics, regardless of whether you would like to see tough or lenient immigrations policies, or whatever policies, it is important what means you use to get there. If you are ok with any means and see the law and the Constitution as just impediments to that end, then you, like the ancient Israelites, are asking to be ruled by the arbitrary whims of individuals who in the long run can take away from you as much as they give you. It doesn’t matter whether those men are judges or kings, you will be subjects:

“When any branch of government can exercise powers not authorized by either statutes or the Constitution, “we the people” are no longer free citizens but subjects, and our “public servants” are really our public masters. And America is no longer America. The freedom for which whole generations of Americans have fought and died is gradually but increasingly being taken away from us with smooth and slippery words.”  -Supreme Court Disasters,  Dr. Thomas Sowell

The original architecture was intended to create a new and unique form of government, a government of law and not of men. Neither judges nor presidents were considered entitled to rule by decree. It worked pretty good for a long time. It doesn’t seem to be working very well anymore.

lwk