Recent Questions about my Judicial Philosophy

A reader has recently posed three queries. My response follows.

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Thank you for your queries. I shall answer these in turn. As a preliminary matter, the Canons of Judicial Ethics prohibit me from speaking as to how I might rule on a particular issue in any given case. Also, I view the job of a District Court Judge to be only the following: to apply the law as written to the facts as presented in making a decision in a case.

1. Would a defendant be allowed to use the US Constitution as part of his/her defense in your courtroom?

Answer: It is a basic principle of our judicial system that any party may base part or all of his or her case upon the United States Constitution. To answer your query to any further extent requires that I attempt to decipher your query.

Assuming that you are making reference to a defendant in a civil case and the other party was not a governmental institution, you could raise the issue that some action has been done in contravention to the United States Constitution. However, the United States Constitution does not govern the actions between private individuals.

Assuming that you are making reference to a defendant in a criminal case. Of course, you could raise the issue that some statutory provision or some action of a governmental institution was in contravention to the United States Constitution. You should recognize that it is not for a District Court Judge to determine whether a statutory provision violates the United States Constitution. The District Court Judge is bound by the decisions of the higher courts as to whether some statutory provision, or any action by a governmental institution, comports with the Constitution. If a party believes that a governing statutory provision, or an action by a governmental institution, violates the United States Constitution, then the course of action is to appeal the decision of the District Court Judge.

2. In your courtroom is a defendant entering into a court of; Common Law, Equity Law or Admiralty Law?

Answer: Your question is ambiguous because you have not defined whether the defendant is in a civil case or in a criminal case. Also, you are conflating either systems of law or types of law with the type of the court. The short answer is: none of the above; in this state, the State District Court has original jurisdiction over almost all types of cases, including many types of cases that could be brought in Federal Court.

3. The legal citizens of this Republic are granted the right to freely “travel” the roads of this nation, falling under the pursuit of happiness. If one is not engaged in the act of commerce, why are we being stopped, detained, arrested, incarcerated and fined for engaging in the act of travel? If there is no injured party or damaged property involved in the traffic stop, isn’t the stop an intrusion on the right to travel. All these laws are an attempt to generate revenue for the state and law enforcement agencies, it has nothing to do with public safety. They are overlapping the commercial driving code on top of traveling rights and that is wrong and it should stop.

Answer: I invite you to read the Preamble to the United States Constitution. “Pursuit of Happiness” is not found there nor is the “Right to Travel”. I also invite you to read the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The United States Constitution permits Congress to regulate interstate commerce. The policing of public highways is not mentioned in the United States Constitution: therefore, that power is left to the states. Thus, the states have the right to say what you can and cannot do whilst on a public highway.

The accurate answer to your question is as follows: you are asking a question regarding the policies of the State of Minnesota pertaining to travel over public highways. The Judiciary does not make policy, it does not make laws, it does not execute the laws. The Judiciary has only the power to say what the law is; that is, to interpret the laws. The judges are authorized only to apply the law as written to the facts as presented. All questions about the policies of the State of Minnesota, which are embedded into the laws of this state, should be taken to the legislature.

I hope that this helps.

Nathan A. Busch

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