CONGRESS STOLE OUR RIGHTS!!!
Imagine if you will, going about your daily life, be it work, school what have you…and you look for your purse or your wallet and discover that it’s gone…all of a sudden you realize your credit and debit cards, driver’s license and all other forms of precious personal information and things of value that you carry with you…are gone.
That’s the shock I felt when I discovered that the U.S. Congress stole my right to federal review. It wasn’t just my “right” it was the right of every single American citizen in this country.
What is the “right of federal review” you may ask? And that is a fair question because if you didn’t know you had a “right” of federal review, you of course would not have known it had been stolen from you. The “right of federal review” is one of the fundamental rights that the founding fathers insisted on including in the U.S. Constitution for all citizens of this country. The “right of federal review” would only come into play when you, a citizen, encountered an issue with one of the 50 state governmental entities and the outcome was against you and contrary to the protections contained in the U.S. Constitution and the laws formed under the Constitution.
For instance, say you spent several years preparing yourself to go to medical school and after great effort and expense you are admitted to a medical school with AMA certification. You complete the course requirements and go on to your internship. Then it is time for your medical board examination. You prepare diligently, take the examinations and pass. Now comes licensing by a state agency. They deny you a license to practice medicine. Not because you aren’t competent but because they say you have a “character” issue. You appeal the ruling. It comes back against you. Then you discover, that this “character” issue is based on nothing more than conjecture and personal animosity of someone on the board that doesn’t like you or because someone made a political decision that you don’t look like a doctor or your accent is not understandable or there aren’t many of “your kind” in the medical field, or some other crazy notion that they can come up with.
Whatever the reason for the absurd outcome, this type of decision would violate both the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So you appeal the adverse decision to the State Supreme Court and to your great dismay, they refuse to hear your case or worse yet, the affirm the decision made by the state officials.
The founding fathers of this nation knew all too well that the varied states were susceptible to tyranny against its own citizens in the same way as illustrated above. Therefore, to make sure that rights protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States were not washed away by state agencies and rubberstamped by judges and justices of the 50 different state courts, the “right of federal review” was included as a fundamental right of each and every citizen. This “right” gave every citizen of this nation, the unfettered “right” to have his or her case reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court when the highest state court had made a decision that violated the U.S. Constitution or laws created there-under.
That was the fundamental “right” that Congress stole from the American People in June, 1988 and no one ever knew it. Not a word was uttered to let us know that they had “ripped us off” but they did it and every lawyer in America let it pass without a whimper. Every member of Congress that voted for this piece of legislation violated his or her oath of office to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Every newspaper and 24 hour cycle of monotonous news, CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, and none of the “talking heads” we see and hear constantly…no one told the American People that a theft of such monumental proportion had taken place.
And how did this “theft” occur you may wonder? Through an innocuous bill entitled “The Supreme Court Case Selection Act of 1988.” I was dumbfounded because Article III, Section II defines the selection of cases for the U.S. Supreme Court. It reads in pertinent part as follows: “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;-…In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction….”
Now wait a minute, why would Congress need to pass a law “selecting” Supreme Court cases when the U.S. Constitution has already set forth and established that criteria for them when the Constitution was drafted, debated, ratified and enacted into Law? The reasons offered seem even more unreal. It appears that somebody felt that the U.S. Supreme Court was being “overworked” and that its case load was far too much for the meager nine justices to handle so the most logical solution was to cut back on the number of cases that the Court would hear. And the clever manner in which this lesson in supreme laziness evolved was to restrict the right of federal review to only those cases that the Supreme Court, through its certiorari discretion, wanted to hear.
When any other business gets more orders than its work force can handle…they hire more people to get the job done. Not the U.S. Supreme Court and certainly not Congress. They decided it better to let the rights of the American People suffer for the sake of curtailing the work load of the Court. No one in the world of business would tolerate such an idiotic, absurd decision.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States, this may sound like it’s no big deal but it is an extremely BIG DEAL. In our scenario above about the medical student denied a license by a state in a manner that violated the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court, before June, 1988, was obliged to hear the case because of the right of federal review and it involved state action. But now, they only have to hear it “if they want to” and as recent statistical evidence proves, the U.S. Supreme Court does not want to hear much of anything. They reject review in approximately 90% of the cases that are presented to them each year. In fact, according to the Supreme Court Web Site, the Court only accepts between “100-150 of the 7000” petitions that are filed for review. And if that isn’t bad enough, then prepare yourself for the ultimate shocker, the decision to hear a case is not made by the Supreme Court Justices themselves but by their Clerks. That’s right, the Clerk’s of the Justices sit in what is called the “Cert Pool” and they wade through all of the petitions that are filed and decide which cases fit the deciding criteria or interest of their particular justice.
And then if you are lucky enough to survive that initial level of scrutiny then your case gets to be pulled up to see if three other justices are “interested” enough in hearing the case that violated your rights under the U.S. Constitution (See “Closed Chambers”). What a crock of manure…this is not what the founding fathers had in mind when the “right of federal review” for each and every citizen was envisioned and made a part of the fabric of the U.S. Constitution.
So while we see the daily news reports about how bad Congress has become; in fact, the Washington Post recently published an article entitled “Wealth gap widens distance between Congress, constituents” in its December 27, 2011 edition. Other articles and writers are decrying the “gridlock” in Congress and even Senator Joe Lieberman admitted recently that he had never seen Congress “this bad”. And to add more to the pile of complaints, the American People will now know that Congress “stole” one of their most precious and fundamental rights…the right of federal review. So in the scenario above, all of your years and expense to get into and out of medical school as you pursued what you thought was a Constitutional Right to the “pursuit of happiness” in your chosen profession, will be denied because Congress didn’t think that your right was important enough to protect. So they stole it and no one uttered a peep.
If Congress wants to improve its standing with the American People, they can start by repealing “The Supreme Court Case Selection Act” Pub. L. 100-352, 102 Stat. 662 (enacted June 27, 1988). It’s time that the U.S. Congress represented the rights of the people of the United States. Not themselves and certainly not the 9 “overworked” justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In fact, if Congress wanted to really solve the problem of the Supreme Court case load, they would vote to expand the number of justices on the Court or in the alternative, shift the obligation of federal review to the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal or the U.S. District Courts and expand their ranks to accommodate the overflow. You do not curtail the rights of the American People in order to cut back on the amount of work the Court is required, by the Constitution, to perform. That is the reason for the existence of the U.S. Supreme Court as set forth in Article III.
On another note, I really wonder if Congress could legally restrict a constitutional right by way of a statutory enactment? This may ultimately prove to be a case of Congress overstepping its jurisdictional parameters.