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Who are “The People”?

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We the People

The familiar phrase “We the People” no longer means what it used to. The majority of Americans do not understand how the law is made and assume Congress proposes all legislation and therefore makes law. That is not the case. The president can refuse to enforce any law or impose it arbitrarily under the claim of discretion, and the Judiciary is responsible for altering law every day. Judges create the majority of laws to impress their particular brand of bias in a very undemocratic manner by using their interpretation of the words written by Congress in any Act or the Constitution. So all you need is a judge to twist the words around to make new law, which is why fights erupt over appointing Supreme Court justices who can become legal unelected dictators.

Money laundering was intended for the war on drugs. Today, hiding your money from the government, which includes placing cash in a safe deposit facility, is money laundering thanks to judicial law. Judges twist the same statutes around so that the words mean whatever they want it to mean. It is your burden to appeal and prove that the judge is wrong. Good luck. Cops protect cops, and so do judges.

On March 18, 2008, the Supreme Court heard the case of District of Columbia v. Heller (07-290), regarding the Second Amendment, which reads:

“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The ACLU argued in that the term “We the People” should have its definition changed to mean “We the State Militia.” Changing that definition can effectively prevent individuals from having the right to own a gun. The Constitution would become complete trash if the term was found to have different meanings, but lawyers have become wordsmiths and use this ability to create laws.


Supreme Court Cases

The Supreme Court overlooked this question of who “the people” are for 200 years (1789–1989). Since then, the Supreme Court has twice commented on the meaning of this phrase, but these two cases are in somewhat conflict with each other.

In United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, the court said that “the people” refers to those “persons who are part of a national community,” or who have “substantial connections” to the United States. In delivering this interpretation, they were consistent with the problem that faced the question of jurisdiction at the founding of the nation.

If you were English and committed a crime in France, the French king could not punish you for you were the property or “subject” of the English king. He would send you back in chains to England with an explanation of what you did. Since the American Revolution was against the monarchy, why would they comply with international law and send someone back to England for a crime committed in America to be punished by a king they did not recognize? The American Constitution established territorial jurisdiction for the first time. So someone convicted of a crime would be punished in America for his crime in America. Now the problem became a question of rights under the Constitution. Did a foreign citizen have a right to a fair trial? The definition had to extend to any person tried in America regardless of their citizenship.

The touchstone in United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez was correct, constitutionally speaking, for it extended to one’s connection to this country in compliance with territorial jurisdiction. The court declared that this definition of “the people” applied consistently throughout the Bill of Rights and did not limit rights to citizens.

In U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (494 U.S. 247, 288, 1990), Justice William J. Brennan Jr. argued: “The term ‘the people’ is better understood as a rhetorical counterpoint ‘to the government’ … that rights that were reserved to ‘the people’ were to protect all those subject to ‘the government.’ …” He continued: “The Bill of Rights did not purport to ‘create’ rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be pre-existing.”

In United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, the Supreme Court wrote: “The people protected by the Fourth Amendment, and by the First and Second Amendments, and to whom rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community… The Fourth Amendment’s drafting history shows that its purpose was to protect the people of the United States against arbitrary action by their own government.”

However, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the court approvingly quoted Verdugo-Urquidez’s definition and similarly suggested that the term “the people” had a consistent meaning throughout the Constitution. This must be correct or the Constitution becomes chaotic. Yet, Heller also said that the term “refers to all members of the political community,” which actually changes the definition.

Heller’s interpretation contains a confusing three-part analysis: (1) it approved of Verdugo-Urquidez’s interpretation; (2) it substituted “members of the political community” for “persons who are part of a national community”; and (3) it suggested that “the people” means the same thing throughout the Constitution.

Heller’s analysis has created a conflict that has largely gone unnoticed but is already changing law. Heller could now be viewed as changing the meaning of “the people” throughout the Bill of Rights by limiting “the people” to “members of the political community,” which might be interpreted to mean, inter alia, “eligible voters.” This interpretation could have a profound consequence for individuals who have been denied the right to vote and non-American citizens. In this manner, the entire principle of territorial jurisdiction can be overturned.

Heller’s interpretation is already being applied. The Fifth Circuit previously held, “Once aliens become subject to liability under United States law, they also have the right to benefit from [Fourth Amendment] protection.” (United States v. Cortes, 588 F.2d 106, 110 (5th Cir. 1979) (citing United States v. Cadena, 585 F.2d 1252, 1262 (5th Cir. 1978))

In a recent case, US v Armando Portillo-Munoz, it was ruled that a ranch hand who lived and worked in the United States for more than 18 months, paid rent, and helped to support a family, but who committed the misdemeanor of illegally crossing the border — is not part of “the people.”  Circuit Judge Dennis in his dissenting opinion warned, “The majority’s interpretation of the “the people” has far-reaching consequences.”

“We the People” no longer means what people have always assumed: “We the People.”