Ridiculous river ruling awakens giant

“[T]he opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not . . . would make the judiciary a despotic branch. . . . [T]o consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. . . . The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal.” —Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson was a man of many talents. He ran a farm, invented an eternal clock and also penned some of the most delicate, moving lines ever scribed on American soil. He was also, apparently, clairvoyant.

Jefferson was just one of several founding fathers who argued in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere that the Judiciary Branch should be, by design, the weakest element of our three-pronged system of government.

Jefferson and his cohorts knew that a Judiciary Branch that was allowed to legislate would be a greater threat to the democratic experiment than any foreign army or invading navy.

Boy, were they ever right.

Today, activist judges man benches from sea to shining sea, and rather than leaving personal prejudices aside and using the law to guide their decisions, they make their decisions and then try to twist laws to reconcile with their beliefs.

This happens every day in America, but a ruling last month by activist judge Robert James has sent shock waves through the national fishing public that finally awakens them to the threats Louisiana anglers have been facing for decades.

James, a Ruston native who was appointed to his seat by Bill Clinton in 1998, inexplicably ruled that large sections of the Mississippi River are off-limits to anglers.

The ruling came in a case brought by five plaintiffs who were arrested several times over the course of a decade for fishing from boats on a seasonally high Mississippi River. A federal magistrate who heard the case issued a strongly worded opinion in favor of the plaintiffs that stated federal and state law guaranteed a right to navigability on the Mississippi River. The magistrate warned the arresting sheriff he had violated the plaintiffs’ 4th Amendment rights and was “answerable to them for any damages they … sustained.”

James, however, threw that opinion in his fireplace. In reading his ruling, it’s clear James had his mind made up before hearing the case, then tried to construct — pitifully, I might add — legal support for his opinion.

He agreed with the magistrate that state and federal laws guaranteed a right of navigability, but that, he said, did not guarantee a right to fish and/or hunt. The arrests, James said, were warranted.

Using James’ absurd logic, the Mississippi River — except when it’s contained within its low-water banks — is freely accessibly to boaters, but not to anglers and hunters.

Because it was a federal case, James’ ruling now applies as precedent across the country. That has turned some heads in some very powerful places.

For details on the ruling, see our Newsbreakers section.

But believe me, you’ll be hearing much more about it in coming weeks.

About Todd Masson 690 Articles
Todd Masson has covered outdoors in Louisiana for a quarter century, and is host of the Marsh Man Masson channel on YouTube.

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