Our Constitutional Rights Under Attack in Orlando- Again!

Seems that Judge Frederick J. Lauten is no fan of the Constitution and is not a supporter of justice. On 30 December 2016, he issued an “Amended Administrative Order Governing Expressive Conduct Toward Summoned Jurors. Orange and Osceola Counties” which forbids anyone from informing potential jurors about their rights and duties as jurors. This supercedes a previous order by Judge Belvin Perry.

In an effort to “to do everything necessary to promote the prompt and efficient administration of justice” Judge Lauten seeks to “minimize activities which unreasonably disrupt, interrupt, and interfere with the fair and orderly conduct of jury trials, and the orderly and peaceable conduct of court business in a neutral forum free of actual or perceived partiality“. He further characterizes pamphlets which inform the jurors of their responsibilities as jurors as a possible violation of 918.12 of the Florida statutes- jury tampering. His line of reasoning conflates an informed juror with an attempt to tamper with a juror. Why would a judge take such an extreme stance? How can someone who is informed as to their duties and rights of a juror somehow been tampered with? Sounds to me like he prefers ignorant jurors who will perform as he wants them to perform, not as a sovereign entity that truly determines justice.

How can informing jurors of their rights and responsibilities be considered tampering? Juries are the people’s way to combat government tyranny. It is a right guaranteed to ALL Americans that whenever a criminal case or a civil case in excess of $20 is to be tried that the person has a right to trial by jury. This right is protected by the 6th and 7th Amendments to the United States Constitution. He states that “Such occurrences severely impact the court’s ability to conduct the efficient, prompt, and proper administration of justice“. How?

Juries are a huge check and balance to our justice system. The proper role of a jury is to protect people from tyrannical abuses of power by government. This is why we are guaranteed a trial by jury. The jury further is the only body who can rightfully judge a person on their guilt or innocence. Judges were never tasked with determining guilt or innocence. How can a person who works for and is paid by the system be truly impartial? The role of the judge is that of a referee in the court room insuring that justice is served, not being the instrument of said justice. This is an idea that used to be known by most but along with other civic ideas it has been flushed down the memory hole.

One of the truly egregious ideas that makes itself known in this order is the idea that someone on court “property” is somehow not protected by our Bill of Rights. “The term “courthouse complex” and any restrictions on expressive conduct contained herein shall apply to the Orange County Courthouse complex grounds, which includes the adjacent courthouse parking garage, the courthouse courtyard, and all other grounds surrounding the courthouse, from the intersection of Orange Avenue and Livingston Street, to the intersection of Livingston Street and Magnolia Avenue, to the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and Amelia Street, to the intersection of Amelia Street and Orange Avenue, to the intersection of Orange Avenue and Livingston Street. The public sidewalks that comprise the boundaries of this designated perimeter are excluded from this designation of the courthouse complex grounds.” (emphasis mine) So on “public” property it is ok to exercise your 1st Amendment rights but for some reason when one steps onto the “courthouse complex” one loses their 1st Amendment rights? And this guy is a judge?!

I wrote an article a few weeks ago detailing the arrest of Mark Schmidter and Julian Heicklen for passing out literature from the Fully Informed Jury Association. Seems that Judge Lauten is in line with Belvin Perry and is fine with restricting our rights and keeping potential jurors ignorant of why they are there and what their true duties are. He is part of the problem and needs to be opposed. The whole idea of keeping people ignorant and restricting our rights through administrative order is also repugnant. He is a judge who supposedly interested in justice. His actions and reasoning speak to another agenda however.

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Nullification: A True Liberty Activity

Libertarians in Florida (and in general) need to start addressing issues that are relevant today instead of spouting off about fantasy “solutions”. Talking today about anarchy or open borders does not resonate nor is it a true path toward liberty. Both ideas represent a refusal to deal with real world problems. Neither is a solution to what faces America.

One of the topics we should be talking about is fighting unconstitutional federal laws that affect us in the state of Florida (or any other state you may reside in). This is a problem of “right now” and needs to be solved. Fortunately for us we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. This idea has already been thought about and a solution has been formulated. This is an enumerated principle of Libertarians here in Florida and is a very powerful tool to counter unconstitutional edicts, mandates or “laws” issuing from Washington DC. The process is a simple one to understand and extremely effective in its execution. The simplicity of it is what makes it so elegant.

It is called nullification. It is the idea that a state decides that the federal government is operating outside of it constitutional bounds and is infringing on the rights of its citizens. Its action is to declare the law unconstitutional, the reasons for determining this and stating that no one who works for the state or within the state may aid or in any way help this unlawful expression of power originating from Washington DC. It is an idea espoused by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It is the constitutionally tried and true method to fight unconstitutional tyranny issuing from Washington DC.

Before you scoff and say this can never happen realize it has happened multiple times throughout our history and is currently being revived throughout our United States. Look to Washington and Colorado. How long ago did they nullify unconstitutional federal marijuana laws and say the law shall not be enforced within their state limits? Realize, neither stated that they wanted to nor have they tried to change the federal law. What they have done is affirmed that the federal “law” is unconstitutional and not to be enforced within their borders. State agencies and law enforcement are disallowed in aiding or initiating any actions against those people who grow or sell marijuana. The state is to do NOTHING!!! How Libertarian is THAT?! You fight no one. You see unlawful aggression and say that you will not support nor participate in the activity. Without the manpower and logistic support it is almost impossible for the feds to do anything within a state. This is the power of doing nothing.

Another current trend that is not being reported or being under-reported is the “Right to Try” laws. Thirty one states to date have passed laws nullifying unconstitutional mandates of the FDA concerning human “experimentation”.  These laws allow terminally ill patients to purchase drugs that are not currently approved by the FDA. Imagine that? People who are dying have a chance to save their lives in opposition to unconstitutional laws coming out of Washington DC. Imagine also why this is not widely reported on? Imagine if the people figured out they could actually make decisions for them selves and not rely on Washington DC? Things could change for the better and some in charge would not like that.

Other additions to the modern day nullification movement involve constitutional carry. Twelve states where there is no requirements for people to obtain any type of license to carry a gun. Some states and municipalities have nullified ALPR’s (Automatic License Plate Readers) within their bounds of their jurisdictions. This interposition is of varying degrees of restrictions on their collections. Many states have taken up or passed legislation restricting the monitoring and collection of cell phone data within their states via Stingray technology.

I leave hemp for last because it is a special topic for Floridians. Six states have nullified unconstitutional federal laws in their states and now grow hemp legally. Hemp is a wonder crop that has a multitude of uses and is a great crop to rotate to replenish soil. For those who are concerned about misuse, the THC content of hemp is negligible. The use of it as a drug would not be viable. But it IS very useful for many things and is the stuff that prosperity is built upon. Growing a plant that can make rope, canvas, food, drinks, paper, fabric, clothing, building supplies ( including hemp blocks to build houses), and plastics only makes sense. Hemp is the top plant for producing the most cellulose biomass per acre which makes farmers the most money per acre. This biomass is what paper, plastics and textiles are made of. No chemicals or insecticides are needed . All of this from growing this prolific and easy to grow crop. It is not legal in Florida but the industry would thrive here in the state. Because of our weather hemp could be grown year around and be among if not define the highest cultivation rates in the United States. The industries that would be created around this production would create real business and prosperity for Floridians.  We don’t do this because the federal government says it is illegal and the people in Tallahassee have big donor support who like things the way they are. They do not want to fight. That’s where Libertarians get involved.

So you see that nullification is trending and is definitely a force for liberty. Recognize this is a universal principle that will attract many people. . Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, Constitutionalists all would agree that determining our own path is a good thing. We will not agree once we have the power what we want to do but at least we the people of Florida decide how we want to live. That is how our country is supposed to work. Washington DC was never supposed to be tinkering with the inner workings of a state. Their focus was to be a representative of the states for the rest of the world and to make sure the states played fair with each other. The primary function of our Federal Government is to secure our rights. Patents and trademarks, weights and measures, coining money, Post offices, postal roads, raising a Navy and Army, conducting war, protecting us from invasion and guaranteeing a republican form of government round out the majority of their enumerated tasks . The rest was left up to the states and the people. Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution describes exactly Congress’ tasks. How far away from this ideal have we wandered? That is what we fight today to realize liberty tomorrow.

It is my hope that Libertarians can coalesce and figure out as a group how to present their message to the public so we can be a viable force for liberty. The portrayal of libertarians to date has been abysmal and it is up to us to change that. The powers that be like the status quo- i.e. republicans and democrats being the only viable options. Getting behind and promoting an idea such as nullification is a short term and long term winner for libertarians. The true beauty is it is already part of our principles here in Florida. All we need are representatives and candidates who will espouse this policy. Time to get busy.