Independence from any monarch.
Every year on the 4th of July, we celebrate our Independence as a nation. This brings to mind the stories of the revolution, George Washington and many other patriots who founded this nation. While it is an important part of our heritage to remember the revolution, and subsequent battles fought against foreign foes, we will not fully appreciate the United States of America if we do not understand our system of government and the many checks and balances that exist to preserve our freedoms.
The Founders of the United States did not simply believe they could do things better than the king and administrate the colonies more efficiently. They were reacting to an out-of-control and aggressive monarch who sent his military to their home towns, and housed them in their homes and imposed other onerous restrictions on their liberties. For this, they were allowed no recourse or effective objection except to die as traitors for complaining.
Really understanding Independence Day is something more than paying our due respects to the military (active duty and veterans), law enforcement, fire department and local politicians. It is understanding and celebrating the fact that someone who is displeased with the operations of the government, can sue to correct it in a court of law.
Recently, we have seen a true plethora of lawsuits brought against the President of the United States and their administration(s). This happened under President Obama (50.5% win rate with the Supreme Court), and is continuing under President Trump. Many times, the result of these lawsuits is that the will of the President is stifled or blocked. The Supreme Court, and the many other lower courts are given the opportunity to rule on the legality of what the President of the United States and his administration does and when finally determined to be illegal, it is blocked.
In regards to the recent Supreme Court decision on the “Travel Ban,” yes, the court allowed the injunction on the ban to be lifted, but in the same breath prohibited its enforcement against certain others who were previously covered by the ban. A 9–0 decision is fairly uncommon in these controversial matters so it is important to realize that the travel ban was severely “gutted” by the court as well (for now) and although its implementation will still likely result in harm or hardship to refugees and other legal immigrants, the number of those adversely affected is less now and the final decision on legality of the ban itself is still pending a final court resolution.
Many immigration attorneys have recently heard complaints from clients and their devastated family members who can no longer travel to the US as per the Travel Ban, and some have asked, “What’s the difference between Iran, or any other dictatorship and the US if the President can do this?” The simple answer is still, “We can sue the President if he does something illegal or unlawful and we can trust in the enforcement of our court orders.” That’s the beauty of the 4th of July. We didn’t only gain our independence from the ruthless monarch of Great Britian, we gained our independence from any ruthless monarch (foreign or domestic) (present or future). The Founders realized that man was too imperfect to be entrusted with absolute rule and so built a system of checks and balances to distribute power among the branches of government. This system was further solidified when the Supreme Court ruled that it had authority to be the final arbiter on the interpretation of the Constitution as well.
In an age of social media fanfare and amplified news media rage, a reactionary or rash head of state can have severe consequences for the citizenry and social stability. It is the unfortunate reality that rash or hurried policies drafted out of fear will frequently skip an honest analysis of whether it is even legal. When confronted with the enforcement of an unjust or illegal law, the citizenry benefits from the exercise of that last blessed clause of the 1st Amendment which guarantees the right, “… to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
That last clause, guaranteeing the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances is the heart of America. This is the true message of Independence Day and the 4th of July. We celebrate the independence we have from monarchs, kings, dictators and their unlawful policies. As Americans, we have the right to petition when the government or when the President imposes an illegal or unjust policy, action or law.
On the 4th of July, let’s celebrate our military and veterans who keep us safe from foreign powers, let’s celebrate our law enforcement and fire departments who keep us safe from domestic harm, and let’s also celebrate the attorneys who fight in the courts to keep us free from the unlawful acts of the government, no matter how popular those acts may be.