When 4th District Court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled the NDAA unconstitutional, there was wide rejoicing across the Internet. Posts from prominent civil liberties activists, like journalist David Seaman, rang out with VIICCTOOORRYY! A Russia Today newscast titled the ruling “NDAA Shot Down, But Threats Remain” seemed to imply that the fight was over, or “on hold.” But it was only just beginning.
Do you remember, from your high school or college government courses, where they talked about the court having “neither the power of the sword nor the purse?” That means the High Courts of the United States cannot force the government to accept their ruling. They can heavily imply it, but they have no power to force government compliance. When the Supreme Court ruled against the government in Worcester v. Georgia, President Andrew Jackson is famous for having responded: “[Justice] John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”
The tyrannical U.S. Government has taken the exact same tack with the ruling against them on the NDAA. But first, let’s quickly recap exactly how weak the government case in favor of the NDAA actually was. In Hedges v. Obama, the government routinely avoided the judge’s questions and demands:
The Court: When we are talking about cases which have used the phrase ‘substantially supported’ and said that that is a valid criterion under the AUMF or of the legislation, that’s not the same thing as saying that . . . any court has found, one way or the other, that ‘substantially supported’ has an understandable meaning to an ordinary citizen?
The Government: It’s true that the courts have not expressly ruled that, that’s right.
The Court: Give me an example. Tell me what it means to substantially support associated forces.
Government: I’m not in a position to give specific examples.
The Court: Give me one.
Government: I’m not in a position to give one specific example.
The Court: Assume you were just an American citizen and you’re reading the statute and you wanted to make sure you do not run afoul of it because you are a diligent U.S. citizen wanting to stay on the right side of §1021, and you read the phrase ‘directly supported’. What does that mean to you?
Court: That’s fine. Tell me what that means?
The Government: I cannot offer a specific example. I don’t have a specific example.