Pubdate: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 Source: North Shore Sunday (Beverly, MA) Contact: 2011 GateHouse Media, Inc. Website: http://www.wickedlocal.com/northshoresunday Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/3465 Author: Steven S. Epstein, Esq., GateHouse News Service Note: Attorney Steven S. Epstein of Georgetown is founder and an officer of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. ADHERANCE TO CONSTITUTION WILL BRING PROSPERITY Georgetown - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." As we celebrate the 235th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, do Americans still "hold these truths to be self-evident"? Are they obeying the laws of Congress, state legislatures and municipalities because they are just and "binding in conscience" as Thomas Aquinas wrote over 700 years ago, or because most people wish, as he also wrote, "to avoid scandal or disturbance"? That is, obedience obtained by fear of punishment. The challenge for imperfect humans is to elect to power those humans that, as legal scholar Randy Barnett in "Structure of Liberty" notes, "respect the "bounded individual discretion" or liberty that is essential to the pursuit of happiness, peace, and prosperity." When legal commands do not "bind in conscience," he agrees with the Declaration that resistance, secession or revolution are justified. Resistance can take many forms. As noted in the Declaration it can take the form of humble petitions for redress to those in power and to our fellow citizens, in the founders' case their "British brethren." It can take the form of civil disobedience of unjust commands by destruction of property as happened at the Boston Tea Party, or refusing to go to the back of the bus, like Rosa Parks. Resistance does not have to be public. That there are scores of millions of cannabis consumers in this country and untold thousands supplying them establishes that a significant number of Americans do not feel bound in conscience to obey the prohibition. At times in our history jurors resisted unjust laws by withholding guilty verdicts against persons accused of disobedience. This phenomenon began in England in the 17th century. Following colonial jurors' exercise of this power, Parliament passed laws "depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury," an injury complained of in the Declaration. When the colonists' "humble" petitions fell on the deaf ears of a rapacious king and Parliament they resisted by secession and revolution. They instituted new forms of government established by written constitutions intended to constrain the foibles and faults of human "rulers" and establish government based upon the principles of justice and the rule of law, including frequent elections intended to replace the violence inherent in secession and revolution. In the United States and Massachusetts of the 21st century, secession and revolution as means of resistance are impracticable if not impossible in response to abuses and usurpation that now burden the people with a $14,000,000,000,000 debt. Only one means of resistance, other than civil disobedience with its risk of punishment, remains to the patriot, voting out those in power who, although they may be well intended, reject the self-evident truths that the signers of the Declaration of Independence did "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." The usurpations that redistribute wealth to: individuals deserving of individual acts of charity; to corporate interests deserving of only a level field; and, the ever-increasing number of government employees do not create prosperity. They are naked bribes by those in power to those who benefit to vote to maintain the status quo. As John Adams writing as Novanglus warned in 1775: "Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards ... The revenue creates pensioners, and the pensioners urge for more revenue. The people grow less steady, spirited, and virtuous, the seekers more numerous and more corrupt, and every day increases the circles of their dependents and expectants, until ... vanity, luxury, foppery, selfishness, meanness, and downright venality swallow up the whole society." As the next municipal, state and national election approaches, you have time to study the conception of justice and the rule of law described by Professor Barnett in the tradition of John Locke. Adherence to these self-evident principals will restore legitimacy to government in city halls, town halls, Boston, and Washington and bring prosperity to the nation. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.