The Club says:
The Power To Judge Both Law and Fact
These innocent little words have colossal legal meaning. By giving its Special Grand Jury the "power to judge both law and fact," Amendment E empowers its jurors to interpret the law - that is, to decide whether or not to uphold or reject, ignore or amend a law without having to answer to any branch of government or to you.
This is another wolf in sheep's clothing Branson and his minions want you to slip into our statutes. They're based on his radical belief in something called a "jury veto."
"Trial jurors retain the right to veto, or 'nullify' bad laws," Branson writes on his website, jail4judges.com. (Wrong website-- go to Jury Nullification -j4j)
Not only is that false, but think about the fallout if juries arbitrarily decided - without being accountable to anyone - which laws are bad and which are good. It would jeopardize any protection or security you expect from a fair, impartial court system. And that's exactly what will happen with this contrived Special Grand Jury: it can reject any law it doesn't like - any law, including all your Constitutional rights.
The place the fallout will have its most caustic effect? The South Dakotan economy. Without stable, impartial courts to enforce laws fairly and reliably, the financial institutions that rely on consistent application of the law will take other steps to protect themselves. If our laws become vulnerable, banks, which are perhaps the most risk-adverse businesses anywhere, will become vulnerable. South Dakota's financial institutions agree that, if South Dakota suddenly created a new branch of government that could arbitrarily ignore laws without being accountable to any other branch of government, business and personal credit in the state would dry up overnight. That means home loans, student loans, business loans, farm and ranch operational loans and more would either disappear, become very difficult to obtain, or become prohibitively expensive. All because this Special Grand Jury gets "the power to judge both law and fact."
Why look to a jury to arbitrarily reject the laws of the land? Because Amendment E supporters haven't succeeded challenging laws in the conventional arena of the legislature. Now, they attack what they call "activist judges" with what we might call "activist juries." The laws they can't stop our duly elected legislators from passing, they simply can ask a jury to repeal.
Branson has rarely been on the winning side of a battle with government officials - and never met a court he didn't want to attack. The so-called jury veto is perhaps his favorite weapon in his fights against the court system, and, in his fanaticism against it, he has tried to get us to write it into our Constitution with these eight simple but devastating words. Don't let the wolf into the fold.
The quoted statement "Trial jurors retain the right to veto, or 'nullify' bad laws," did not originate with J.A.I.L. The J.A.I.L. News Journal titled "Jury Nullification" quoting that statement is taken from "Jury Veto Power" at http://www.nowscape.com/fija/_abhope.htm. A Google search of that quoted statement will bring up many references, including "Jurors' Handbook, A Citizens Guide to Jury Duty" at http://www.caught.net/juror.htm which gives a good history on jury power, stating that jury nullification predates the Constitution. There are many other sources of information and authority on this subject.
For the No-On-E Club to state that the statement is "false" does a grave disservice to South Dakotans. A Google search of Trial jurors retain the right to veto, or 'nullify' bad laws will prove that their contention is false --not the quoted statement about the jurors' right to veto bad laws. The purpose of that right is explained in detail in a number of sites on the internet brought up by the Google search. Another source of information about jury power is found in a booklet titled "Citizens Rule Book."
Amendment E will educate the legal fraternity and government bureaucrats of the true role of a jury, and particularly the Special Grand Jury which represents the participation of the People in being the final check on government. A jury is not part of government-- it is the People who are sovereign by nature and accountable only to their Creator.
Blackstone, a highly respected authority with the courts, correctly stated that it is "Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer," 4 William Blackstone, Commentaries *358. Therefore our founding Fathers created numerous checks and balances. When the House of Representatives approved a proposed law, it required that the Senate also approve, or there was no law that could potentially convict anyone. If the House and the Senate both approved, the bill was sent on to the President who could veto it. If Congress could override the President by a two-thirds vote, it became a law. The law then may go to the courts where it could be declared unconstitutional. If the law survived a constitutional challenge, it could face a jury. The jury, in the exercise of its power, could find the law unreasonable as a matter of conscience, and nullify it. If the jury does not nullify the law in question, but gives it force and effect, the President, or in the case of states, the Governor, has the power to pardon, the law notwithstanding. So, everyone from the legislature, the executive, the judicial, and last of all the People, get a shot at dismantling the law or its effectiveness.
The No-On-E Club, of course, believes that the People should not have an opportunity to nullify the law. In other words, they believe that all laws should be sacrosanct purely within the government. This of course is how all tyrannies develop, when government dictates and the People have no say. This is not the American way envisioned by our Founding Fathers.
The No-On-E Club cites absolutely NO AUTHORITY for any of their contentions above because there isn't any!