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A Judge's Attempt at Redacting America
May 24, 2000

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

One of the significant principles of effective government propaganda is the repackaging of the past to fit the goals and objectives of a prevailing regime. Modification and even outright destruction of recorded truths are time-honored practices that tyrants have utilized to maintain authority and control.

In a similar vein, the nation's judiciary has been delivering its own brand of fact adjustment. Indeed, a new zenith has been reached in a court ruling that involves the state of Kentucky.

Federal District Judge Jennifer Coffman recently engaged in the ultimate semantic distortion of the law. Through use of a twisted interpretation of the First Amendment's text, which over the last several decades activist jurists have carefully crafted, Judge Coffman ruled that displays of priceless American treasures must be removed from public view. We are, amazingly enough, referring to historic documents that set forth the soul and conscience of our laws, our heritage and our very culture.

Why must this legal surgical extraction of the symbols of our legacy take place? According to Judge Coffman, it is because they violate the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. In this age of contortion of speech and constitutional sleight of hand, this ruling stands, rather, as a sweeping dismissal of the fundamental rights that the First Amendment was designed to protect.

With the subject of civics having been stripped from our schools and average citizens lacking in understanding of the source of our rights, this catalogue of banned displays reads like a game plan for the covert establishment of an ignorant nation.

Documents from which the eyes of the public must be sheltered include: the Preamble to the Constitution of Kentucky, which speaks of gratitude to Almighty God for the "civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy"; a portion of the Declaration of Independence, which states that "all men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"; the Mayflower Compact, which speaks of the name of God and explains that one of the reasons for the journey of the early settlers was "for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith"; and lastly, that perennial favorite of the dubious defenders of civil liberties, the Ten Commandments.

Of late, Americans have been forced to witness the diminution of private property rights, the disrespect for life, the disregard for privacy, and the deconstruction of the rule of law. Now Judge Coffman seeks to expunge from the halls of our institutions those vessels of our heritage that have been key to the conveyance of our unique system from one generation to the next. We are being robbed of free access to a vital piece of our inheritance, precious jewels that have traditionally helped to insure proper transference of the beliefs, standards and ideals needed to nourish and sustain an equitable legal system.

In addition to greatly exceeding their sphere of authority, jurists such as Coffman show a profound ignorance of clear, constitutional principles and, most importantly, the fountain from which their power and influence flow. How then should concerned citizens deal with the senseless denial of these tangible manifestations of our heritage?

For starters, Congress must reclaim its originally conceived position within government. Our founding fathers intended for Congress to be the branch of primacy within our system. Instead, fainthearted representatives appear willing to relinquish their exclusive legislative authority to the other branches of government.

Additionally, we as a people must insist upon authentic accountability from our judiciary. Judges must be held responsible for their decisions and ultimately provide restitution to the public in the appropriate manner, even if it means the forfeiting of their position.

To this end, the Constitution grants Congress the power to control the federal judiciary. Constraint may be achieved through regulation of jurisdiction or, if necessary, through impeachment of judges who flout restraints imposed by the Constitution and flagrantly exceed the limits of their authority.

There is an urgency for Congress to step up to its responsibilities in the area of judicial oversight. Our survival as a nation of laws depends upon it. Our present course must be redirected, for if nothing is done to restore integrity to our system, Congress will find its power and authority atrophied beyond repair, and the last remnants of representative government will have been struck from the pages of future archives.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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