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Don Yarber Don Yarber
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Appointed Judges vs. Elected Judges

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First in a series of essays on my personal political beliefs.

       In 1848 the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville said, “If I were asked where I place the American aristocracy, I should reply, without hesitation...that it occupies the judicial bench and bar...”
       It is my opinion that Tocqueville realized, even then, that a democracy which appoints its judges, rather than elects them, creates powers that are not in democracy’s best interest.
       All students of civics are aware that United States presidents historically have appointed Supreme Court justices whom they believe will support their political beliefs.
       It is not in the best interest of this country to create a Supreme Court whose opinions nullify the very Constitution on which this country was founded.
       An example is the recent ruling by the Supreme Court which upheld the confiscation of an automobile used in the course of selling drugs.  It didn’t matter, according to the justices who wrote assenting arguments, that a part of the vehicle was owned by a person who had neither been charged with or convicted of the crime, and had no knowledge that the automobile was being used for criminal purposes.
       This usurpation of power sets a dangerous precedent.
       Let us assume for a moment that you have a political enemy and that you would like this person stripped of their property. Have a friend fly over the person's property with a small aircraft and dump marijuana seeds all over the place.
       Then you wait a few months and have some law enforcement agency invade this person’s premises with a search warrant.  You pave the way to confiscating the person’s property by paying some low-life to swear to the police that this person approached him offering to sell marijuana.
       The courts have held that properties used in commission of a crime can be confiscated.  Can you see how dangerous this law can be?  
       Unlikely, you say?  Improbable? Don’t fool yourself.
       Tell that to the woman in Michigan who lost her car.
       It’s amazing to me how such an asinine law was passed to begin with, and more appalling that it has been upheld by the highest court in our land.
       The Constitution explicitly prohibits the seizure of property without due process of the law.  In this case, due process meant the right of appeal to a court that upheld the seizure.  Is that what our founding fathers meant when they wrote the Constitution?  
       I can understand law enforcement officers wanting to put drug pushers out of business.  What I don’t understand is the Supreme Court ruling that it is O.K. to confiscate someone’s personal property even though that person was not a party to committing a crime, had no knowledge of the crime and was never charged or convicted of committing the crime.
       In Spokane, Washington, two young boys had their life savings accounts of $87.54 seized to pay off part of their father’s $1,800 tax debt.  
       I think our courts have their priorities confused.  Their jobs are to put convicted criminals behind bars, not to confiscate the personal property of innocent people.
       Since judges are appointed rather than elected, I guess there isn’t much we can do about it.  Seems like another prime example of our freedoms being slowly legislated away.  

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