Judge Andrew Napolitano: ‘When unjust laws are popular … only disobedience can change them’
Judge Andrew Napolitano is the author of the new book “It is Dangerous to Be Right when the Government is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom.”
An author of five previous books on the Constitution, Napolitano is the Fox News Channel’s senior judicial analyst and the host of “Freedom Watch” on the Fox Business Network. He recently agreed to answer The Daily Caller’s questions about his latest book:
Why did you write “It is Dangerous to Be Right”?
To underscore the inalienability of our rights, and to warn about the dangers of their subtle loss to the government.
What is the main theme you want readers to take away?
That the individual, with an immortal soul, is a greater good than the state which is an artificial creation based on force; that government is essentially the negation of freedom; that the government is not your friend.
Explain why it is an individual’s right to disobey unjust laws. Should they be prepared to face the consequences?
When unjust laws are popular, like Jim Crow laws were in the South in the 1950s, only disobedience can change them. With disobedience can come horrific consequences, like the victims of Bull Connor or the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., or liberation, like later generations of blacks enjoyed because of their forebears’ disobedience.
Which unjust laws have you disobeyed?
As an attorney and former life-tenured judge, I have taken an oath to obey all laws, even unjust ones. Ugh.
You discuss in the book the decline of personal freedom in America. What have been the most egregious infringements on freedom in recent years?
The destruction of Fourth Amendment rights via the national security state and the so-called war on drugs.
Has our freedom really been curtailed so considerably? Certainly, there hasn’t been as significant an infringement on personal liberty as there was during World War I and World War II, right? Aren’t we are still one of the freest countries in the world?
Being among the freest countries in the world is a meek standard. Our freedoms are far less than they were during the two world wars.
We have a president who has been judge, jury, and executioner on an American; who has started a war without congressional authorization; and who thinks the Constitution is just a guideline or a goal. We have a federal apparatus that can and does monitor our every movement, conversation, and financial transaction. We have and have had since FDR a Congress that thinks it can write any law, tax any event, and regulate any behavior it wishes; whose only self-recognized limits on its power is whatever it can get away with.
We have lost the rule of law we once boasted of enjoying.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has taken a lot of flack for saying, in an off-the-cuff comment, that he believed Texas could secede from the union if it didn’t like what Washington was doing. Do you believe secession is a legitimate option for states?
On this issue, Gov. Perry is correct. The taboo on secession is a trick played by the Big Government types. We became a country, for Heaven’s sake, by seceding from Great Britain. And the “sheet anchor of our liberties,” the Declaration of Independence, is a legal and moral justification for secession, and it is codified in federal law.
How do you think Americans should act to help restore freedoms that have been lost?
Repeal the 16th and 17th amendments, and begin the dismantling of the welfare state, the administrative state, and the warfare state.
What three books most helped shape your worldview?
“The Conscience of a Conservative” by Barry Goldwater
“The Road to Serfdom” by F. A. Hayek
“Orthodoxy” by G. K. Chesterton
This is your sixth book. Do you plan on writing more?
The seventh, “Theodore and Woodrow: How a Republican and a Democrat conspired to Destroy the Constitution” is nearly done and due out in the Spring of 2012; and “A Passion for Freedom,” which is a collection of my on-air rants, is due in 2013.