26 February 2015

Poking around a white supremacist constitution so you don't have to

Following some bouncing links the other day (seriously, don't ask), I stumbled across the "Constitution" of the "Northwest American Republic," a proposed white supremacist nation seeking to establish itself somewhere in Cascadia and currently operating out of, I believe, Port Orchard, Washington. The draft constitution's bill of rights contains the expected conservative wackadoo provisions ("The right to life of unborn children, beginning at conception, shall be respected and enforced by the state"; "The right to keep and bear arms shall not be qualified or restricted by any requirement of licensing, registration, fee, taxation, restriction on transportation, or other such impediment"), a couple of unexpectedly progressive provisions ("All residents and citizens of the Republic shall have the right to adequate and life-preserving medical care, free of charge"; "All citizens and residents of the Republic shall enjoy the right, free of charge, to all such education, technical training, vocational training, and instruction as shall be within their innate personal capacity to understand, assimilate, and apply in life"), and at least one hilairiously qualified provision ("All residents and citizens of the Republic shall enjoy the right to complete freedom of speech, freedom of artistic and creative expression, and freedom of the press. (This article shall not be construed as limiting or interdicting the right of the government of the Republic or competent local authority to control or prohibit expressions of obscenity and/or pornography.)").

Though of course I don't agree with the understood policy behind this particular enumeration of rights, I get it. The drafters are looking to promote education among the populace and to keep people non-broke and healthy, both for the better functioning of the republic. They also want everyone to have as many guns as possible and ban abortions and likely a lot of forms of contraception as well, because they're conservative wackadoos. And they want people to be able to say the n-word but not the f-bomb, because they're racist conservative wackadoos.

Now, I'm a lawyer, so I poked around the constitution's sections relating to lawyering and the judiciary. Interestingly, strangely, and/or bizarrely, the constitution refers to a judiciary but there's no actual judicial branch of the national government. That is, there are executive and legislative branches of the government, but no third-arm judicial check on them. The policy here is stated clearly in the constitution itself: they don't dig so-called judicial activism ("The courts and judiciary shall have no governmental or policy-making role whatsoever within the State; these powers are reserved to the legislative and executive branches"). Again, policy I don't agree with, but I understand the mindset it's coming from.

But then then constitution goes full-on "let's kill all the lawyers":
No resident, citizen, or other person charged with a criminal offense before the courts of the Republic shall be denied the right to counsel and advocate of his choice, provided such counsel or advocate shall accept no fee, reward, emolument in money or kind, property or thing of value, officially or unofficially, for the performance of such function, and shall affirm such on oath before the commencement of trial or other proceeding.
Emolument is a term that means simply "payment" but sounds classy because it's used in the U.S. Constitution and also that sneaky Hillary "Benghazi Vince Foster Whitewater" Clinton has run afoul of the Emoluments Clause not once but twice. Twice! More like BENGHOLUMENTS, amirite?

That distraction aside, the constitution goes further elsewhere as well:
No citizen or resident of the Northwest American Republic may charge or accept any monetary emolument, fee, gift, or anything of value for performing any service connected with law, legal processes, trial or litigation, or for speaking in defense of a defendant in any legal case.
I'm killin' myself here trying to understand the policy behind this provision. Lawyers can't get paid? For any lawyering work? I mean, never mind how this mechanism goes beyond merely discouraging "frivolous" lawsuits and effectively shuts down the courts as a meaningful institution. But no paying for a will, a power of attorney, a business transaction? No hiring someone to do some sabre-rattling for you when your insurance company balks at paying out a claim? How about notarizing documents? Isn't notarizing a "service connected with law"?

How do they expect to fill their judges' benches? I mean, banning compensation for lawyers is a disincentive to become a lawyer. Or even if you do become a lawyer, then it's a disincentive to become an experienced lawyer. And isn't it best to have judges who come from the ranks of experienced trial lawyers?

The constitution appears to restrict the courts to trial-level tribunals. Is there no appeal system? Does this constitution de-activist the courts to such a degree that it gives a magistrate the final decision power of a court of last resort?

At least the constitution doesn't abolish the writ of habeas corpus.

Finally, most importantly, and the real reason for why we need to adopt the Northwest Front's constitution as America's new, improved constitution, and I mean truly above all else, is that it enshrines dueling as a civil right for male residents and citizens:
In order to instill and maintain the highest standards of personal courtesy, deliberation, maturity, integrity and courage in the manhood of the Republic, the State President in his capacity as chief magistrate shall establish and supervise a National Honor Court. The said body shall in turn create and enforce all necessary regulations, procedures, and protocols for the resolution of personal differences between individual male residents and citizens of the Republic, up to and including private combat by mutual consent, in accordance with the ancient and historic traditions and practices of the European family of nations.
Ancient and historic! Also Spielbergian:


upyernoz said...

I would guess that the no lawyering for pay rule has its origin in one of the drafter's own experiences with a lawyer. Maybe that lawyer overcharged him. Or maybe the lawyer just charged him while telling him that the actual constitution is not the same as the white supremacist document of his dreams.

Glomarization said...

I think you're probably right. Not that the question has been keeping me up nights or anything, but I've thought and thought and can't come up with any reasonable policy behind the rule.