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Jury Nullification: The Power of the Juror
Tyranny With Permission of the Jury
I spoke with a pro-lifer recently who did some hard time behind bars a few years ago for doing a "pro-life rescue". His name was Cal Zastrow (he is presently the Field Coordinator for the Constitution Party). He was one of the first "pro-life rescuers" to be prosecuted by the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) that Congress passed in 1994. His crime was joining with other "rescuers" on the property of an abortion clinic, kneeling down in prayer, and refusing to move when told to do so. They shut down the child-killing center for a day and lives were saved as a result! Before the FACE Act was passed, such "rescues" would earn them a day to a week in jail, but with the FACE Act, pro-lifers started facing months to years.
Across a grocery store aisle, Mr. Zastrow saw one of the jurors who presided over his trial and conviction that landed him behind bars for ninety days. He approached her, introduced himself, and asked if he could speak with her a minute. She consented. He asked her if she thought abortion was murder. The woman said that she did. He asked her if she thought that the non-violent sit-in they performed at the abortuary stopped murders from taking place. The woman again admitted that it probably did.
"Why did you send me to prison for ninety days then?"
"The Judge told us that we had no alternative," she responded. "He was to decide the matters of law, we were to decide the matters of fact, the facts were not in dispute and the law was unambiguous. We therefore had to declare you guilty!"
This dialogue exposes a crippling ignorance of the typical American juror. I have news for you, prospective jurors: You are NOT obligated to enforce bad law! You do NOT have to send people to jail who you don't think deserve to go there, regardless of what the law says!
The basis of that statement is the laws of our land. Thatís right. The laws of our land! The laws of our land are two-fold: the laws of God, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights. First and foremost, the laws of God make up the laws of our land because the laws of God are universal: they are without boundaries. Godís law reigns supreme over the laws of every land, over all man-made statutes and edicts. When any King contradicts the King of Kings, guess whoís right? When the Supreme Court and the most Supreme Court conflict, the Supreme Judge of the world overrules.
Secondly, the basis for my statement is the laws upon which this nation was founded. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights: those founding documents make it clear that the government exists to protect the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are God-given and are inalienable - that is, they are not to be violated by men. Those documents describe a system of checks and balances between the executive, the Congress, and the judiciary, comprised of judge and jury, designed to limit the power of the Federal government. The government has no right to deprive any human being within its jurisdiction of life, liberty, or property, without due process, which includes a trial by an independent jury of one's peers. In order words, in the most unambiguous terms, the government is forbidden to kill innocent human beings by the very document that empowers it! It further obligates them to protect the weak from the strong with sanctions appropriate for the crime.
When the Federal government mandated legal abortion in all 50 states in 1973, they declared murder lawful, and violated not only the law of God, but also the laws of the land. The President, Congress, and the Supreme Court usurped power that God had not given them. No man or group of men, not even a unanimous democratic consensus for that matter, has the power to make evil to be good and good evil any more than they have the power to overthrow God and put themselves in His throne! Elected leaders have no more right to usurp and rule unlawfully than foreign terrorists who kidnapped the Federal government would have a right to rule this nation! Our leaders have usurped power that neither God nor the laws of this land inscribed in our founding documents have given them. They want us to render unto Ceasar that which belongs only to God. Mindless submission to the satanic law that justifies aborting the lives of innocent human beings would be the contemporary equivalent of taking the mark of the beast and worshiping his image because the government says you have to!
One of the peaceful means whereby the ordinary citizen can put the brakes on tyranny is through their jury vote. The ordinary American juror has the constitutional power to do what the Congress, the Judiciary, and the Executive branch of the government have been obligated to do and have not. The ordinary American juror has that much power! He doesn't need to raise millions of dollars in a successful political campaign or start a massive grassroots effort to call or write Congressmen and Senators. He doesn't need to lobby Congress or run for office. The juror has the power to stop tyranny dead in its tracks by refusing to enforce legislation contrary to the laws of God and the principles engraved in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Congress, the President, the Supreme Court - none of these can enforce bad law! Congress can draft it, the President can sign it, the Federal judges can interpret it, but our nationís founders decided that a jury of oneís peers would decide guilt or innocence. A jury is a critical part of our systems of checks and balances, and a morally upright, knowledgeable, independent jury is critical to the preservation of our God-given liberties.
Why a jury? Our founders realized that centralized government power would be faced with the temptation to terrorize its people and begin to pass laws that would violate the rights of those it was intended to protect. So they wove this "ace in the hole" into our form of government, a trump card they believed good citizens could use to keep this new, experimental government in check. Juries guard against government-condoned injustice by being disinterested parties and by having the authority to decide guilt or innocence regardless of the instructions of the judge or the law. Under obligation to God supremely and the Constitution secondarily, they have the right and the power to check tyrannical abuses that violate God-given rights.
For instance, even though Roe versus Wade has declared child-killing
to be legal, even though the FACE Act says Cal Zastrow shouldn't do what he did,
and even though Cal Zastrow admits to doing what the law says that he shouldn't
do, the jury has the power to reject the instructions of the Judge and the FACE
Act and declare Mr. Zastrow "Not Guilty". This is called jury nullification or
jury veto power, and is a well established legal
Four Jurors Refused to Convict William Penn and Gave America the Freedom of Religion
The year is 1670. William Penn is on trial for violation of the Conventicle Act. This is a piece of legislation that formalizes the Church of England as the only legal church. Penn was charged with preaching a different view of the Bible than that of the Church of England. He believed in freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to peacefully assemble. He believed that this was a natural right that came from God, and he intended to be a good steward of that which God had given him. His crime of preaching could have gotten him executed! But he loved not his life unto death.
After the trial, in which Pennís guilt of transgressing this law was proved, four of the twelve jurors declared William Penn "Not guilty"! Those four jurors withstood the wrath of the government of England for not doing as they were told! They spent nine weeks of torture in prison, often without food or water, soaked with urine and smeared with feces, and threatened with heavy fines. Yet they declared, "Our liberty is not for sale."
As a result of their persistence, Penn was freed and the Coventicle Act was
struck down through jury nullification. Freedom of religion was established and
became part of the English Bill of Rights; later it became inscribed into the
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. All because of four jurors! These
brave men submitted to King Jesus and His laws supremely and, as a result, a
tyrannical and unconscionable dictate of man was
The Jury Declared John Peter Zenger "Not Guilty" and Gave America Freedom of the Press
It is November of 1734. A printer named John Peter Zenger has been arrested for seditious libel against the Royal Governor of the Colony of New York. He criticized the government and provided evidence to the public of the Governorís corruption. The English politicians were furious! The Colony of New York forbade any publication without prior government approval. The colonists had not yet established the freedom of the press. Zenger, unintimidated by corrupt government officials, defied this censorship and published articles that were strongly critical of government corruption. Soon, he was arrested for it.
When brought to trial in August of 1735, Zenger admitted that he published the articles, but he argued that the truth of the facts stated justified their publication. The judge instructed the jury that truth is not a justification for libel. Rather, the judge argued, truth makes the libel more vicious because public unrest is more likely to follow claims that are true, rather than false claims of the corruption of the government. And since the defendant admitted to the fact of the publication, only a question of law remained. So the judge said the issue of law was for him alone to determine and so he instructed the jury to find the defendant guilty. (Sound familiar?)
It took only ten minutes for the jury to disregard the judgeís instructions and the law that denied Mr. Zengerís God-given right to free speech and they found him "Not guilty"! They deemed him not guilty of any criminal act, and in so doing charged the law with guilt instead! As a result of that juryís decision, the freedom of the press became firmly established in the colonies. That's the power of the jury! It was the jury that gave America the freedom of the press.
The jury is our governmentís final check in the system of checks and balances. The jury is the peopleís last safeguard against unjust laws and arbitrary statutes that serve the interests of the lawmakers and not the people. It was through the veto power of the jury, handing down a "Not guilty" verdict in defiance of unlawful law, that slavery was overturned in state after state before the Civil War, the Salem witch trials were stopped, anti-strike laws were overturned, and Prohibition was brought to an end. The government cannot deprive anyone of life or liberty with man-crafted, God-usurping, artificial laws without the consent of the jury. And the jury may be the last line of non-violent defense of the victims of the Abortion Holocaust in America.
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