Civil Disobedience

When a Law is Unjust, it is the Duty of the Free Citizen to Disobey

A Democracy can Produce a Tyranny of the Majority

In the Rinehart Case, currently pending before the California Supreme Court, the trial court judge in his ruling stated he considered Rinehart's actions as a form of civil disobedience. What is civil disobedience? Perhaps the most famous case of civil disobedience is American author Henry David Thoreau who was jailed during the Spanish-American War for refusing to support the war. He said,

"Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I thin that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right."

Refusing to Obey

Ultimately, civil disobedience is refusing to obey the government when you believe a law is unjust. Thoreau writes of our obligation to oppose unjust laws,

Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeaor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? men generally, under such as government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have pursuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy is worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse...Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronouce Washington and Franklin rebels?

In order to have civilization you must have a civil society. A civil society is based on the rule of law. In a democracy the laws are made by the people and in a representative style of government the laws are made by representatives of the people. When one party becomes a super-majority then the likelihood of the minority losing their rights becomes likely.

For freedom to survive you must have opposing parties. The balance between the ideologies must be roughly proportional with one side gaining a majority every now and then, but in the end the competing ideologies balance. You can only have freedom when one party can block the unobstructed desires of the other party. In California, at least, this system has become unbalanced with a Democrat super-majority which is the result of the disenfranchisement of the rural residents of the State. A State which stripped the representation from the counties and hand it to the more populous cities. The U.S. Constitution carefully balanced this from happening by ensuring even the smallest, least populous states would have at least the same number of Senators as the largest and most populous states ensuring every member of the Union would have some representation in the national government. It's a system which has worked and kept the ability of the large states from trampeling the rights of the rural states. In short it has kept the peace.

But what is freedom? There are many definitions of freedom, and certainly in America, the view of freedom has changed over time, but to those who still adhere to the notion of freedom it is best defined as no one else, or no government, being able to force you to do something you don't wish to do. There are certainly numerous examples of actions the government compels you to do such as pay taxes. In order to live in a society there have always been constraints on actions you may take which would harm someone else, but as our government has grown larger, the actions they deem worthy of coercing your obediance grows longer. Thoreau believed the constraints on your individual freedom should be very limited,

"The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right."

Surrendering Freedom to Regulation

Congress, and legislatures pass laws. Those laws are then codified and implemented by executive branch agencies who take their mission of writing regulations seriously. The acceptance of regulation, in place of law, means you are surrendering your freedoms. Like the proverbial frog in a pot they take your freedoms one regulation at a time. Over the past 21 years 87,000 regulations have been issued by the federal government alone. A regulation is an edict from the government a citizen may not do something, which he previously could do, without first asking permission from the government, and being granted that permission in exchange for the confiscation of you money in the way of permit fees. Some would argue regulations are necessary, but this is how we end up in a regulation state, whereby the executive branch begins quasi-legislative actions in the way of issuing regulations which interpret the laws Congress has passed. Consequently we have tags on mattresses, stickers you may not remove in cars; bicycle helmet laws; fees on you phone bill; your cable bill; your gas bill and the list goes on and on. In fact, there is no part of your life which isn't regulated.


Often these regulations are issued under the guise of protecting children. There is no more powerful argument than "If we could just save on child's life it would be worth it." Who will argue against saving childred. Throw in mothers and children and you have thousands of new regulations.

For example, bicycle helmet laws. A leading neurologist recently stated he can find no evidence bicycle helmets save children from brain injuries. Yet we meekly accept the notion we must strap our children into bicycle helmet without questioning the validity of the requirement. Instead of reviewing the data the safety regulators "blasted" the statement by Dr. Henry Marsh.

We've heard the same argumentin the dredging bans in California and Oregon, backed up by a scarcity of real data, but fueled by emotional arguments suction dredges stir up historic mercury which harms mothers and children. There is virtually no evidence of this, and there is absolutely no linkage between suction dredges, mercury and physical harm to mothers or children, but who is going to argue against protecting mothers and children? It's a sure bet legislation will be passed.

The 16th Amendment

When we look at the growth of regulations, and the growth of the federal government we need only look at a single event which sparked the growth of the government. They say the way to control the growth of government is to starve it and history shows this to be true. The 16th Amendment, apopted in 1913 signalled the unchecked growth of government. The 16th Amendment gave Congress the power to lay and collect taxes directly, which of course led to the establishment of an agency, the Internal Revenue Service, to implement this new individual taxing power. The Constitution required each state to collect taxes, and then the states would in essence be taxed to support the federal government. In practice this meant the 50 states had the fiscal control over the government. With the passage of the 16th Amendment the power was transferred to the federal government over 300 million taxpayers. According to an article in the Indepent the budget of the federal government prior to 1913 was merely 2.5% of GDP. In 2016 according to Government Spending Tracking website the total federal spending is about 20% of GDP, or almost ten times prior to the income tax amendment.

It can be argued the 16th Amendment is the root cause of all our problems. With no states to check the federal government what hope does one taxpayer out of 300 million have? All the regulations, rules, restrictions and enforcement departments result from unlimited money flowing to the federal government.

Want to strike the root of the evil? Then go after the 16th Amendment. This is the way to restore freedom, starve the government.

What Would Thomas Jefferson Say

This country was founded on the principle of individual rights trump collective rights. It is helpful to review the writings of those who participated in the founding of the country and there is none better than the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrants will, and will always be so when it violates the rights of the individual."

If you comply with an unjust law, then you are complicit in your own destruction. By complying with the law you are submitting to the will of the tyrants. Take your ticket and plead not guilty. Make the State go to court and defend the unjust laws. They may win in one court, maybe several, but in a court somewhere we are bound to find a judge who will rule for the Constitution and restore the rights of the individual.

The road to serfdom is based in regulations. You have two choices, submit or disobey.