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Why Make Jury Power A Priority?

If you care about liberty and justice, there are a host of different issues that are worthy of focus and energy.  Why should one focus more on jury power than on other political issues?

We at the Lone Star FIJA think that there are a number of compelling reasons why focus on fully informed jury legislation and education are the most important to the long term health of our nation:

  • Our Founding Fathers handed us a powerful tool to keep government in check.  Over the last century, freedom loving people have abandoned that tool to our detriment.  We need to pick it up again.  Thomas Jefferson said, "I consider trial by jury as the ONLY anchor yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."  Is it any wonder that America is a far different place than the Founders envisioned if we have let deteriorate the one institution they considered capable of protecting their dreams, sacrifices, and hopes?

  • Jury independence changes fundamentally the losing game that liberty lovers are playing, today, giving us a chance at stopping and reversing the seemingly inevitable encroachment of government into our lives.  Today, special interests hire lobbyists to spend their full energies to pass laws that deny liberty.  Often, it is taxpayer money, itself, that is used to erode further the liberty of the taxpayer.  People who work for a living and do politics part time fight a losing battle when they go up against such a machine.  Fully informed juries have the potential to stop the injustice of bad law  -  one case at a time.  Every midnight regulation and law passed by a backroom deal will, when it actually starts causing harm to an individual, have to face the light of day in the courtroom and jury room.

  • Discussing jury power gets people to thinking fundamentally about the proper role of government and about what political values we as a nation value most.  Most Americans, when they think about it, realize that our most highly prized political values are right there at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag  -  ". . . with Liberty and Justice for all."  -  not the Law, no matter how tyrannical.  Talking about jury independence gets people to thinking about that.

  • Jury power is a non-violent way to achieve social change.  Steve Symms, Republican U.S. Senator from Idaho, said, "There are three ways to protect liberty:  the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box."  When minorities are being trampled by the majority through the democratic process, juries which follow conscience give hope to those being targeted, and avoids social unrest.  If we care about social harmony, we have to work for jury independence.

  • Voting for representatives is a pretty flawed way of letting our leaders know what we want. Jury participation comes closer to getting our views in synch with legislative action.  Many of us may vote for one candidate because we dislike their opponent.  The candidate who receives our vote may think that we voted for him or her because we liked every one of his or her policy stances.  Repeated jury nullification of a law lets legislators know what the people in the community really want.

We hope that you will agree with us that working for fully informed jury education and legislation is one of the most important political actions you can take.  If so, we hope you will work with us toward our common goal of liberty and justice through juries.


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Last modified: November 27, 2003