So many of the words and warnings delivered by America ’s Founding Fathers are appropriate for today. Consider this sage counsel from America ’s first and greatest President, George Washington: “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” I was reminded of these words when I read the following report out of the State of Indiana.
“Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court [ISC] ruled Thursday [May 12, 2011] that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.
“In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry.”
Justice Robert Rucker and Justice Brent Dickson dissented from the ruling, saying the court’s decision violates the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution.
“In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally-that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances,” Rucker said.
The NW Indiana Times also reported, “This is the second major Indiana Supreme Court ruling this week involving police entry into a home.
“On Tuesday, the court said police serving a warrant may enter a home without knocking if officers decide circumstances justify it. Prior to that ruling, police serving a warrant would have to obtain a judge’s permission to enter without knocking.”
Shortly after the ISC decision, Newton County Sheriff Donald Hartman, Sr. said he believes the ruling makes house-to-house searches possible. According to a report at Infowars.com, Sheriff Hartman “made it clear that he would use random house to house searches if he believed it was necessary.”
The Infowars.com report also correctly notes that it was years of illegal searches and seizures and seizures of the American colonists (along with the attempt to seize the colonists’ firearms) that led our forebears to resist the British government with force on April 19, 1775, at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge which ignited America’s War for Independence.
It may be helpful at this point to rehearse the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
With this ruling, the ISC effectively told the citizens of the State of Indiana that the Fourth Amendment is null and void in their State. And Sheriff Donald Hartman has effectively said that he will treat the citizens of Newton County in much the same way that King George treated America’s colonists--or the way Stalin’s or Mao’s police treated the enslaved subjects of the former Soviet Union and Communist China.
And what is also disturbing is the way government, at every level, seems unwilling to police itself.
The reason the US Constitution limited the jurisdiction and authority of the federal government and left states with their own jurisdiction and (broader) authority was to serve as a check and balance against the tyrannical tendencies of the central government. Today, however, acts of tyranny seem to be taking place as frequently on the State and local levels as it is at the federal level. This story out of the Hoosier State is only the latest example.
Does anyone find it more than interesting (and even paradoxical) that while the US military is being used more and more as international policemen, local and State law enforcement personnel are often being used more and more like military troops (and taking on the appearance, procedures, and tactics of military troops)?
Traditionally, it was never the role of local and State law enforcement personnel to act like soldiers. Police officers have no “enemy” to seek out and destroy. Their job is to protect, not punish. The citizens of their State, county, or city are not the enemy.
I recently had a well-meaning police lieutenant tell me that his primary concern was that his officers were protected. That is all well and good, and I certainly understand his concern for his officers. However, when a man or woman puts on the uniform of a police officer (or sheriff’s deputy), he or she is saying that they are willing to sacrifice their lives in order to make sure that the citizens of their community stay protected. The “us versus them” attitude of many police officers today is very harmful to the principles of freedom and liberty.
In the above-mentioned story, it was the judiciary branch of the Indiana State government that was unwilling to hold the executive branch of the Indiana State government accountable to the principles of liberty and constitutional government. Once again, we see that government cannot be trusted to police itself.
If the State of Indiana had constitutionalist sheriffs (and surely there must be a few of them), they would have immediately renounced the ISC decision, and made it clear that they would never allow their deputies to operate in the tyrannical manner approved by the court’s dastardly decision. The same should have been true for Indiana’s police chiefs. Was there such a response? If there was, the media ignored it.
Furthermore, Indiana’s governor should have immediately renounced the ISC’s decision and issued an executive order forbidding State and local law enforcement personnel from complying with this unconstitutional decision. Again, if he did this, we didn’t hear about it, did we?
The propensity of government is not only to build and strengthen itself, but also to protect itself. This is true at every level of government. It is up to “We the People” to hold our civil magistrates accountable to constitutional government. And this is most efficiently done at the State level.
The citizens of Indiana can put a stop to this nonsense if they are of a mind to do so. They should rise as one in opposition to the court’s opinion; they should rise as one in demanding the resignations of the three justices who affirmed this draconian decision; they should rise as one in demanding the resignation of Newton County Sheriff Donald Hartman (and any other sheriff who expressed similar views); they should rise as one in demanding that the Indiana governor publicly repudiate this opinion and that he sign an EO countering it; and they should rise as one in making sure that every elected official in Indiana knows that the people of the Hoosier State will not sit back and allow their liberties to be trampled on in such an egregious fashion.
As I have said in past columns, liberty will be won or lost at the State level. All this talk about “saving America ” is just that: talk. If we are serious about protecting and preserving our liberties, we will work to ensure that our individual State is the vanguard of freedom--not the instrument of its demise. If we cannot convince our State and local governments to protect our liberties, we are dreaming if we think we are going to convince Washington, D.C., to do the same.
The decision of the Indiana Supreme Court and the public statements of Sheriff Donald Hartman prove that George Washington was spot-on: government is a “fearful master.”
Freedom-loving Hoosiers need to stand up NOW!