Judge Andrew Naplitano Shares How We Can Re-establish Freedom in America Again. He is a freedom fighter, a liberty-seeker, and a straight shooter. He’s the youngest life-tenured Superior Court judge in the history of the State of New Jersey, the host of Fox’s Freedom Watch show, and the author of four books, including “Constitutional Chaos,” “The Constitution in Exile,” “A Nation of Sheep” and his latest effort “Dred Scott’s Revenge.”
Napolitano understands that our personal, civil, financial and religious liberties are under attack – and he understands what true freedom is. When you want insight into how to turn our country around, the judge is among the best people to ask.
The Voice magazine sat down with the judge to discuss his new book, “Dred Scott’s Revenge,” as well as the roots of big government in America, and some practical measures ‘we the people’ can take to fight for liberty and justice for all.
THE VOICE: In “Dred Scott’s Revenge” you address the role of the government and the denial of freedoms based on race. What did you learn about true freedom while writing that book?
JUDGE NAPOLITANO: I learned some uncomfortable truths. The country was founded on the principle that all men are created equal. Our rights are inalienable and they come from God. Jefferson wedded to the national soul the idea of the natural law, which basically says our rights come from our humanity. We are created by God in His image and likeness and since He is perfectly free we are perfectly free. And that doesn’t depend upon the consent of the government or even the consent of our neighbors. Your right to think as you wish, to say what you think, to write what you say, to travel where you want, your right to be left alone, your right to worship, your right to personal intimacy, these are as natural to you as the fingers on the ends of your hand.
The opposite of this view is called positivism. Positivism is the ugly school of law that says the law is whatever the law giver says it is. So if an Adolf Hitler is validly elected, and if his Reichstag validly enacts racial purity laws, those are valid laws that may be enforced. Now you may think that can’t happen here. Well, of course, it did happen here. That was the lesson of Dred Scott’s Revenge. One of the first pieces of legislation that the father of our country, George Washington, signed was the Fugitive Slave Law which said that any white person or any free black in the North could kidnap a runaway slave with impunity and return the slave to the slave’s owner for a reward. And that to knowingly allow a slave to escape or to help a slave to escape made you liable to the owner of the slave.
So the very same generation that said “all men are created equal” and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and that among them is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence – the same generation that wrote in the Constitution that no person shall be denied life, liberty or property without due process of law – changed that for a class of people based on the color of their skin. They preached natural law and enforced it for themselves, but followed positivism for blacks.
Now you might say, “This was 200 years ago. Could it happen again?” There are some dark clouds on the horizon. Dred Scott himself was born a slave in Virginia and he was taken to Illinois by his masters where he claimed that he was free and he filed a lawsuit demanding the court to recognize his freedom. Ten years later, because he moved around from master to master and the lawsuit followed him around wherever he went, he ends up before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court of the United States in the Dred Scott case could have said “once a slave always a slave” it could also have said “once set free you are forever free.” Instead it came down with the most horrific resolution possible when it said that we can’t hear this case because Dred Scott is not a person and only persons may file lawsuits. So black people in America were obviously not persons. They were not intended to be under the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence.
Now this ruling enabled legislature in the North to enslave free blacks because they were no longer persons. You may say, “This was 1857 and that’s not going to happen in our lifetime.” But it did in Roe vs. Wade when the Supreme Court said that babies in the womb (we refuse to call them babies we call them fetuses because that sounds less human) are not persons and therefore, (A) no one can sue on their behalf, and (B) they have no legal rights, so (C) they may be murdered up to the moment of birth.
What’s the lesson for all of this? The lesson is that when the government fails to protect the natural law, when it fails to protect our natural rights, when it thinks it can take our rights away from us by a simple act of legislation or a command from the president, or an opinion from a court, then we have lost everything that we stand for including our humanity. Dred Scott’s Revenge is the analysis of this through the prism of race, through what happened to African Americans from the slave trade in the 1600s to the election of Barak Obama as president of the United States.
THE VOICE: What can we do as Americans for fight for liberty in an era of big government? What can “we the people” practically do?
JUDGE NAPOLITANO: The easy thing is to vote these people out of office, but they were just elected. The Obama folks were just elected with a huge majority. It wasn’t just the Obama folks that got us here. It started with both parties. If you really want to know when this started, it started with Abraham Lincoln. Because Abraham Lincoln enacted illegal income tax, fought an illegal war, and arrested people because they disagreed with him. After Lincoln was dead you would need a permit from Washington to have a carriage go across the street or build a house if you were in a southern state. So it goes way back.
But George W. Bush in the Patriot Act destroyed our rights to privacy by letting federal agents write their own search warrants. The TARP program destroyed freedom of contract and destroyed the freedom to fail by borrowing money from the Chinese so that the government could bail them out. Barak Obama in the legislation and the executive orders he has issued has destroyed freedom of contract and has also destroyed the freedom to fail and is thus destroying free enterprise as we know it. It’s not likely these people, if voted out of office, would be replaced by people that disagree with them because its just a Republican version of big government vs. a Democrat version of big government.
People like Ron Paul who understand the natural law, who understand the footprint that the constitution lays out for the federal government, who respect that footprint – Jefferson called it chains outside where the federal government can’t go – people like that need to get into the government. But candidly Jennifer, people like that don’t get into the government. People that think like you and I do typically don’t run for office. Most people run for office because they like the government, they like to exercise power and they want to control other people’s lives. Only Ron Paul and Barry Goldwater publically stated that ‘I’m running for office because I want to shrink the government.’
There are some practical things we can do, but they are nearly impossible. If we got rid of the 16th amendment we would starve the government. That would bring it to its normal size because that would deny it the right to tax our incomes. If we got rid of the 17th amendment that would allow state legislatures to elect senators and then the senators would be very loyal to the states that sent them. Otherwise they would lose their jobs they covet so much and they wouldn’t enact legislation that impaired state sovereignty. But amending the Constitution is difficult and cumbersome. It’s been done 27 times but usually in areas that the public didn’t care about or overwhelmingly and ardently wanted.
So the bottom line answer to your question is people need to run for office who believe in freedom and they either need to thumb their nose at the leaders of the Republican Party and win Republican primaries, or they need to run as third-party candidates. Until enough people like that get in the government, this is only going to get worse. Jefferson himself predicted that in the long run government always grows and freedom is always diminished. A sad prediction, but true.
THE VOICE: Indeed. Hopefully, this interview will inspire some folks to rally around candidates who are for smaller government and for the rights of the people and the states.
JUDGE NAPOLITANO: You know one of the things to do is to understand the natural law. A lot of my conservative colleagues supported the Patriot Act because they thought that it kept us safe. It’s a big argument as to whether giving up your freedoms keeps you safe. I would argue that it doesn’t. But when you think about it, it is a simple piece of legislation that lets federal agents violate the Constitution. If the American people understood that, there would be no Patriot Act.
I myself have spoken to members of Congress who said to me ‘I didn’t know the Patriot Act let federal agents write their own law, their own search warrants. I would never have voted for it if I knew that.’ Then I ask them a question that I already know the answer to. “Did you read it before you voted for it?” The answer is no. What did they read? They read the summary. Who prepared the summary? The summary was prepared by the Justice Department. Well the Justice Department wants these powers. They are not going to tell what they are.
So, (A) we have a government that doesn’t respect the constitution, (B) we have a government that assaults the constitution, (C) we have a government that assaults the Constitution without even understanding what it’s doing to assault the Constitution, and (D) we have less freedom with every tick of the clock. But when people understand the natural law, understand the dangers of positivism, understand how dangerous a government can be when it can write any law, address any problem, enact any remedy, it’s a step in the right direction. Understanding is always a step in the right direction.