By Mark Wachtler
March 30, 2015. Springfield, IL. (ONN) Both Wall Street and government bureaucrats across America are watching the Supreme Court battle in Illinois over the state’s unfunded pensions and a recent law that slashes future benefits of government retirees. Government employee unions have overturned such cut-backs in the past by claiming it’s a violation of their Constitutional rights. But this author has one question. What Constitutional rights? Americans haven’t had Constitutional rights in 14 years, ironically, thanks to government employees.
Illinois Solicitor General Carolyn Shapiro arguing pension cuts before the IL Supreme Court. Image courtesy of RebootIllinois.com.
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IL pensions and the Supreme Court
In December 2013, Illinois passed a law that eliminated automatic cost of living increases and raised the retirement age for future government workers. Government employees sued the state, and as usual, claimed the Illinois Constitution specifically states that their benefits cannot be diminished, ever. So far over the past decade, government employees have won every lawsuit in Illinois over the matter, including the current lawsuit the state is now appealing before the state Supreme Court.
But when the Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both sides earlier this month, Republican Supreme Court Justice and former Chicago Bear Bob Thomas pressed the state’s lawyers to explain why Illinois officials believe they have the right to reduce government employee benefits. The specific clause in the Illinois Constitution reads:
‘Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.’
Attorneys for the people of Illinois argued that the recession of 2008-2009 devastated tax revenue and funding for the government. The Illinois Solicitor General testified that it was such a state of emergency, that Illinois had no choice but to slash skyrocketing government employee compensation, which now takes a full 25% of all tax revenue in Illinois and growing each year. Supreme Court Justice Thomas seemed unsympathetic and asked the attorneys what would keep state bureaucrats from using the state of emergency to refuse to pay all bills or adhere to contracts any time they want.
The state of Illinois’ legal argument is that a state of emergency suspends Constitutional rights automatically. Past precedents would surely back that up. But the Illinois Supreme Court seemed to want evidence that the people of Illinois are currently in such a state of emergency.
What Constitutional rights?
Here’s a legal lesson for Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court and government employees everywhere. The federal government takes precedent over the states. And the states take precedent over the cities. When Congress and the President suspended the US Constitution and declared a state of war in 2001, the act didn’t just suspend civil rights in Washington DC. All rights across America were cancelled, as countless federal courts and the US Supreme Court have already confirmed.
Ever heard of President Obama’s secret ‘targeted kill list’? The current US President is the only President in American history to give himself the power to order the assassination of American citizens without charge, trial or conviction. He’s also the only President in history to act on that power. How can President Obama continue to do this? According to the courts, it’s because America is in a state of war and under a national emergency.
Want a local example? Remember Mayor Emanuel’s ‘Constitution-free zones’ in Chicago before and during the 2012 NATO conference? How could the city arbitrarily suspend the Constitutional rights of every person in Illinois? It’s because America is in a state of war, and thus, a state of emergency.
The Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act and seemingly countless other laws are totally dependent on the fact that civil liberties and Constitutions in America have all been suspended. And proving that shocking revelation is true, the government wins court case after court case in which citizens, corporations and even the ACLU sue the government for violating people’s Constitutional rights.
Each time, the courts rule that the American people don’t have Constitutional rights because of the state of emergency and the war on terror. So, why do government employees think they have Constitutional rights, especially when it was government employees who single-handedly dissolved everyone’s Constitutional rights in the first place?
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