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Jury Nullification May Be The Only Salvation For The Antiwar Activists

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Darren Wolfe       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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"law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual."

--Thomas Jefferson

The Supreme Court's decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project
to uphold the "material support" of terrorism statute (18 U. S. C.
2339B(a)(1)) has truly turned the law into the tyrant's weapon. In
their June 21, 2010 decision they wrote, "Congress and the Executive are
uniquely positioned to make principled distinctions between activities
that will further terrorist conduct and undermine United States foreign
policy, and those that will not." With these words the Supreme Court
made a criminal of anyone that has had any contact with an organization
on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.
This author is astounded at the court's naivete' in proclaiming that the
government is able to make such "principled distinctions". They've
abdicated their role as guardians of our liberties by rubber stamping
this repressive law.

Additionally, for an organization to be
placed on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations
it need only threaten the "economic interests" of the USA. This
criteria is way too vague to have any other meaning than to allow them
to designate almost anyone as a terrorist. Had the British had this law
on their books they could have labeled Gandhi as one!

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Enter the FBI raids on antiwar activists
of September 24, 2010. Search warrants were executed in Minneapolis,
Chicago, Michigan, and North Carolina against members of left wing
groups that had visited with or advocated for either Colombia's FARC
or Israel/Palestine's Hammas and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Subpoenas to
appear before federal grand juries were served to up to thirteen people.
The individuals and organizations involved maintain that these raids
are merely a fishing expedition
and that they have done nothing wrong. As of this writing the first of
the grand jury proceedings had only just started. Given that we live in
an age when it has been said that "A good prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich."
It is sadly very likely that indictments will follow. If this is the
case jury nullification may be these activists only salvation.

nullification is a well established legal doctrine that allows a jury
to find a defendant not guilty despite the fact that they may have
broken the law. (This is not to say that the above mentioned activists
have done so.) As stated on the Fully Informed Jury Association's (FIJA) website:
primary function of the independent juror is not, as many think, to
dispense punishment to fellow citizens accused of breaking various laws,
but rather to protect fellow citizens from tyrannical abuses of power
by government.
The Constitution guarantees you the right to trial by
jury. This means that government must bring its case before a jury of
The People if government wants to deprive any person of life, liberty,
or property. Jurors can say no to government tyranny by refusing to
Since many judges instruct juries that they are
required to follow what he or she says is the law, most jurors are
ignorant of the real powers they have. This, of course, negates the real
purpose of a jury, which is to protect their fellow citizens from
unjust law and prosecution.

While we may disagree about many
things with the victims of the FBI raids of September 24 and their
colleagues, most libertarians stand with them in opposing this
oppression and are with them in opposing the US government's imperial
wars. These raids have only one purpose, to silence dissent. We can't
let them succeed. Now is the time to put our differences aside to speak
for liberty with one voice, for as they do to the left now they may one
day try to do to all dissidents.

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The particular cause is not the
issue, the principle is. This libertarian is not in agreement with
supporting the FARC, for example. However, if private citizens want to
use their own resources to support such causes overseas they are doing
exactly what we have advocated for many years. Libertarians have said
that we should not be taxed and, therefore, forced to fund foreign
groups or governments. If someone wants to support something they should
voluntarily give their support or money. This is their right and that
is all these antiwar activists have done.

We all need to join
forces to spread the word to potential jurors if the antiwar activists
are taken to trial. Jury nullification may be their only hope against
this government's tyranny.


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Darren Wolfe is the former Eastern Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania. He presently blogs as the International Libertarian His articles have also appeared in, (more...)

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