Susan Kay McGuire: Newsom usurps authority of the legislative and judicial branches
Susan Kay McGuire
I have always had some concerns about death sentences, because I work in the criminal justice system and am aware that it is flawed with imperfect and sometimes dishonest people involved in the legal processes.
United States history includes the Declaration of Independence, wherein our predecessors dissolved our political bands to England and acknowledged the unalienable human rights granted to us by our creator, including the rights to life, liberty and property (the pursuit of happiness). The Declaration further proclaimed that the sole purpose of civil government was to protect those individual rights, against anyone who would deprive an individual of them, including elected leaders.
In other words, individual rights do not come from other people or government, but from the creator of the world. Governments are merely stewards, charged with protecting each individual from another and punishing the individual perpetrator who harms another individual’s rights.
Gov. Newsom recently suspended the death penalty and with a broad brush granted reprieves to 737 condemned inmates on death row. In my opinion, he violated the U.S. and California Constitutions in several respects and the aforementioned presuppositions contained in our Declaration of Independence from England.
Specifically, the Fifth Amendment authorizes the death penalty for “capital” offenses, while providing protections for the accused, as follows:
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital … crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury … nor be deprived of life … without due process of law.” (U.S. Constitution, 5th Amendment.)
The Sixth Amendment provides the accused with additional protections or “trial” rights, including a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state where the crime was committed, to be informed of the nature of the charges against him, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to compel witnesses to testify on his behalf and to the assistance of counsel at public expense.
In other words, numerous safeguards were set in place at our nation’s founding to protect against improper accusations or conviction of a capital offense. In addition, upon conviction, there is an extensive appeals process and those accused of capital crimes are provided attorneys at public expense to ensure adequate representation in that process. Therefore, the costs to some extent are irrelevant in light of these Amendments derived to protect the sanctity of the innocent and specifically against wrongful convictions of those on death row.
Gov. Newsom also violated the province of the electorate in California. As reported in the March 12 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, two relatively recent ballot measures to amend the California Constitution and both endorsed by Newsom, which would have repealed the death penalty failed. The People have spoken.
Gov. Newsom must comprehend, California is not a monarchy.
Gov. Newsom has also unilaterally and tyrannically chosen to ignore our entire long-established criminal justice system established by the Constitution and statutory laws established by our Legislature, including clear authority that in any potential “capital” case, each local elected county district attorney is entrusted with the decision as to whether or not to seek the death penalty or to present that decision to a grand jury.
Gov. Newsom’s unilateral action violated the separation of powers doctrine. The legislative branch makes the laws. The executive branch (governor, attorney general, Department of Justice, etc.) enforces the laws. The judicial branch (via juries and trial courts) receive the evidence and render their decision/verdict on whether or not to impose the death penalty and the appellate arm reviews the trial court proceedings for violations of due process, etc. Gov. Newsom’s sweeping decision usurped the authority of the legislative and judicial branches.
Gov. Newsom’s official conduct is dangerous as it ignores the rule of law, including the supreme law of the land (the Constitution and its organic foundation: Our Declaration of Independence from similar tyranny committed by the monarchs of England) and California constitutional and statutory law.
His conduct ignores the lessons of world history: Recall the old adage, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
He sends a poor message and example to the individual that each may do what feels right in his own eyes and ignore the rule of law. He ignores the expressed organic purpose of civil government and personal civic responsibility.
In my opinion, Gov. Newsom’s conduct is without legal authority and encourages anarchy by the individual.
Susan Kay McGuire lives in Nevada City.
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