Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. Patrick Henry
I. You don’t remember me…
AFTER THE INDICTMENT, the GOP rallied to the defense of the accused. Much was made of his previous status. It was as if he was “sacred and inviolable.”
II. but I remember you
The Declaration of Independence begins with ideals—“all men are created equal”; “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; “the consent of the governed.” Then a list of grievances against King George III leads to a summation: “A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
At the end of the Federal Convention, Benjamin Franklin and James McHenry were approached by Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia.
“Well, Doctor, what have got—a republic or a monarchy?”
“A republic,” Franklin replied, “if you can keep it.”
A monarchy is one thing, a republic another. Alexander Hamilton compared and contrasted the position of George III with that of the proposed Chief Magistrate of the Union.
“The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for FOUR years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and HEREDITARY prince. The one would be amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable.” (The Federalist Papers, No. 69)
The Constitution makes clear that a monarchy is one thing, a republic another.
“The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” (Article II, Section 4)
“Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment according to law.” (Article I, Section 3, Clause 7)
“No person shall…hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath…to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” (Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3)
Title 18, Section 2383 of the United States Code enforces the above.
“Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
“No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state.” (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8)
“No State shall…grant any title of nobility.” (Article I, Section 10, Clause 1)
The President has “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment”; and that is to be used as a check on the judiciary and to restore domestic tranquility. (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 & Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 74) Thus, contrary to the assertion by the gentleman from New York that he had “the complete power to pardon,” it, like the other powers of the Presidency, are to be used for the benefit of the Republic.
III. ‘Twas not so long ago, you broke my heart in two
One problem with the King was his failure to establish justice, as noted in the Declaration.
“He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.”
“He has made Judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.” (Article III, Section 1 prohibits the same)
And he was faulted “for depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.”
The Colonists desired “the rights of Englishmen.” They wanted to be treated as if in “the mother country,” instead of a backwater province of the British Empire. And, after the war, Anglo-American jurisprudence became more than a phrase, a reality reflected in the Bill of Rights, specifically, the Fifth Amendment, the relevant portion of which has figured in recent events: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury….”
William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England did not just gather dust on the Founders’ shelves. Anglo-American jurisprudence did indeed come to pass.
“A presentment, properly speaking, is the notice taken by a grand jury of an offense from their knowledge or observation, without any bill of indictment laid before them at the suit of the king.” (Volume 4, 298, italics his)
“An indictment is a written accusation of one or more persons of a crime or misdemeanor, preferred to, and presented upon oath by a grand jury…. (Volume 4, 299, italics his) As many as appear upon this, are sworn upon the grand jury, to the amount of twelve at the least, and not more than twenty three, that twelve may be a majority…. (Volume 4, 299, italics his) This grand jury are previously instructed in the articles of their enquiry, by a charge from the judge who presides upon the bench. They then withdraw, to sit and receive indictments, which are preferred to them in the name of the king, …and they are only to hear evidence on behalf of the prosecution: for the finding of an indictment is only in the nature of an enquiry or accusation, which is afterwards to be tried and determined; and the grand jury are only to enquire upon their oaths, whether there be sufficient cause to call upon the party to answer it. A grand jury however ought to be thoroughly persuaded of the truth of an indictment, so far as their evidence goes; and not rest satisfied merely with remote possibilities: a doctrine, that might be applied to very oppressive purposes…. (Volume 4, 300)
“If they are satisfied of the truth of the accusation, they then endorse upon it, ‘a true bill’; antiently, ‘billa vera.’ …(I)f twelve of the grand jury assent, it is a good presentment, though some of the rest disagree. And the indictment, when so found, is publicly delivered into court….” (Volume 4, 301, italics his)
“To arraign is nothing else but to call the prisoner to the bar of the court, to answer the matter charged upon him in the indictment. The prisoner is to be called to the bar by his name…. (Volume 4, 317) When a criminal is arraigned, he either stands mute, or confesses the fact; which circumstances we may call incidents to the arraignment: or else he pleads guilty to the indictment, which is to be considered as the next stage of proceedings.” (Volume 4, 318, italics his)
IV. Tears on my pillow
The country’s birth certificate begins with ideals, then lists grievances against George III, and concludes that, “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown….” Therefore American history is not a celebration of monarchy, nor an endorsement of despotism. Thus, the Constitution makes it clear that there are to be no titles of nobility here and guarantees “to every State in this Union a republican form of government.” (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8; Article I, Section 10, Clause 1 & Article IV, Section 4) And so, the one who temporarily resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is President of the Republic, not King of the Realm.
(c)2023 Marvin D. Jones. All rights reserved.
Lindsay Graham is in the studio and will be recording his rendition of these songs:
Tears On My Pillow - Vikki Carr
The Blues Ain’t Nothin’ But A Woman Cryin’ For Her Man - Dinah Washington
I Can’t Teach My Old Heart New Tricks - Nancy Wilson
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