Relationships exist on multiple levels and offer many benefits. The relationship between the government and its citizens should be conducted by similar contractual rules that preside over other relationships. Both parties’ boundaries and authority must be honored and respected; rules of interaction must be established and obeyed; mutual obligations and rewards must be defined and observed.
The temptation of the civil governing power to overstep its role with either individuals or private businesses is nearly irresistible because the state has the power to force compliance. Therefore, the framers of our Constitution separated the powers of the legislative and executive from those of the judicial. By doing so the forefathers intended that the courts would hold civil government accountable to laws and rules of contractual obligations in the same manner as the private sector. The state and the individual are both to be restrained by law. Such a system of government provides protection for the citizenry from civil abuse and fosters personal and financial freedom.
In the last few decades of America’s history, the courts have broadened their role beyond the original boundaries found in the Constitution. The judicial system has been charged with judicial tyranny, a term that has been applied to courts that rewrite the law through verdicts rather than enforcing the terms of the preexisting law. Legislating from the bench appeared in 1990 when Missourians defeated a tax increase, but the 8th Circuit Court overruled. In 1995 Californians voted to stop state-funded taxpayer services to illegal aliens but federal judges overruled. Missouri passed the law “A Woman’s Right to Know” in 2000. Although then Governor Bob Holden vetoed it, legislators followed the due process of law and overrode the veto. U.S. District Judge Scott Write overthrew the legislature’s veto. Many such examples of legislating from the bench are recorded.
When citizens doubt that the courts will protect the private sector by upholding the pre-established laws of contracts they engage in less constitutional ways to secure success. Frequently businesses position themselves for big government favors to improve their advantage. Manipulation and coercion prevail as the dominant form of interaction. Bribes are encouraged when justice is abated. Bribery extends beyond the concept of direct payoff but can come in the form of political support or exchanged favors. Bribery is an attempt to secure contractual advantage. Bribery corrupts a social order and is wide spread in a society where the courts have failed to honor just contracts between the civil and private realms.
Principle Based Evaluation: Relationships are built, maintained, and deepened by making and keeping clear agreements. If courts do not safeguard rather than rewrite those agreements, society runs the risk of losing faith in the system and adopting less ethical means to secure contractual advantages.
For more information on the author, Dr. Patti Amsden, go to: www.pattiamsden.org