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April 2, 2009

Citizen grand juries -- be careful what you wish for

Some Americans, frustrated by the lack of success of various legal attempts to prove that President Obama is not a natural born citizen, are pushing the notion of "citizen grand juries" as a means of delivering an indictment against the president.

The idea, promoted by websites like American Grand Jury, goes like this:
  • The U.S. Constitution requires that no person can be tried in a major criminal case unless indicted by a grand jury.
  • A grand jury is composed of citizens who are not in any way agents of the government.
  • The Constitution does not require that the government supervise the formation or operation of a grand jury.
  • Therefore, citizens have the right to form ad hoc grand juries for the purpose of handing down indictments to prosecutors.
I haven't taken sufficient time to study the legal merits of this argument, but the very notion smacks of vigilante justice to me. Grand juries formed by angry citizens frustrated at government inaction on whatever issue led to the formation of the grand jury can hardly be expected to be objective evaluators of the evidence at hand.

To those who favor this idea: Are you sure you want to open this Pandora's Box? If you insist the concept of citizen grand juries is valid for your hot-button issue (i.e. Obama's citizenship), will you continue to support the concept when it is used by the various denizens of the radical Left to air their grievances?

The Left is very good at using a society's institutions as weapons against that society. I don't recommend giving them more weapons than they already have. Their abuse of this tool will far outweigh any legitimate use you would make of it.


Michelle said...

Sounds a bit scary to me too--a little like a lynch mob. The strength of our nation is that we rely on the rule of law. A citizen vigilante group cannot be depended on to uphold the law, I think. However, I don't really think our court system is currently doing a stellar job of upholding the law. What we need is to return back to the rule of law, not expand lawlessness.

Tim said...

Well said, Michelle.