In his new book A Nation of Sheep, Fox News Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano argues that, in the political arena, there are two types of people: wolves and sheep. Wolves love liberty and understand those who would trade liberty for security deserve — and will receive — neither. Sheep, by contrast, trust government to take care of them and are happily willing to give up liberty when demagogic politicians tell them it is necessary for "national security." Fortunately for America, our Founding Fathers were wolves who seceded from a tyrannical centralized government and created a new one of limited power, governed by a Constitution that sets explicit limits on the sphere of government. The Founders counted on the American people, who were wolves at that time, to vigilantly enforce the Constitution. Unfortunately, almost from its very beginnings, the federal government began trampling the Constitution and, today, the situation has reached a crisis point. However, most Americans are no longer wolves, but sheep, perfectly willing to submit to a centralized government that is even more obnoxious and intolerable than the one they revolted against.
Judge Napolitano dedicates a significant portion of his book to detailing the Bush Administration’s assault on the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans from unlawful searches and seizures of their homes, person, and property. He perceptively notes that one of the main justifications for the American Revolution was the British policy of allowing soldiers to conduct searches by simply writing their own warrants. The Framers specifically outlawed this practice when they adopted the Fourth Amendment, which bans searches and seizures unless a judge has signed a search warrant.
As Napolitano noted in his speech "Civil Liberties in Wartime" at the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s 25th Anniversary Celebration (which I had the honor of attending), numerous presidents have circumvented and ignored the Fourth Amendment. The Bush Administration, however, has rendered it essentially meaningless.
Napolitano describes numerous instances of the Bush Administration’s disrespect for the Constitution in general and the Fourth Amendment in particular. For example, after 9/11 (the Administration’s favorite excuse for its assaults on liberty) Bush secretly authorized a domestic spying program that allowed NSA agents to intercept the telephone calls and emails of American citizens without an authorized search warrant. Bush’s own Justice Department, including even former Attorney General John Ashcroft, believed this program violated the Constitution. Moreover, the PATRIOT Act allows FBI agents — like British soldiers in the era of George III — to write their own search warrants. In true Orwellian fashion, these self-written warrants are called "National Security Letters."
Sheepish Americans may argue that the domestic spying program and others like it are necessary and, in any event, do not affect them because they are not "terrorists." Napolitano makes several points in response to this. First, the Administration has adopted a loose definition of "terrorist" that could conceivably cover just about anyone. Thus, when (and if) the Government decides the threat of "Islamofascism" has rescinded, a president could use the statutes against virtually anyone with whom he disagrees simply by deeming them a "terrorist," "enemy combatant," or one of the other vague terms used in the statutes. Second, the federal government maintains records concerning the cell phone usage, emails, and other information, on hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of Americans, which obviously includes those who are innocent of any connection to terrorism. Thus, such policies are already being directed against the innocent. For example, every business day, the National Security Agency obtains a database of AT&T customers’ phone and Internet records that "is more than two hundred times the size of the entire Library of Congress." An AT&T employee has testified that it is unlikely all of these records could be connected to terrorism.
Third, millions of innocent Americans are subjected to unconstitutional searches and seizures of their person and property every single day. This happens, of course, at the airports, where TSA thugs force them to take off their shoes, belts, and all metallic objects before walking through a metal detector. As Napolitano points out, these bozos are adept at harassing innocent Americans and spotting harmless objects such as water bottles, deodorant cans, and toothpaste tubes. However, when it comes to spotting things that might actually be dangerous, such as, say, bombs and guns, they have proven remarkably incompetent. Napolitano notes that Department of Homeland Security employees and even a college student were able to smuggle knives, guns, a bomb, and other dangerous objects through TSA checkpoints. Since the publication of Napolitano’s book, the TSA’s own studies have proven it incompetent, finding that TSA screeners missed up to 75% of fake bombs.
While Napolitano argues that crackdowns on liberty such as those discussed above are both unconstitutional and ineffective, he courageously argues that, even if they worked, they would still be unjustified. He correctly notes that the Framers took this position as well; they would not have tolerated the indignities we endure every day for even one minute. "Less freedom," Napolitano says, "equals slavery" and would leave us with a nation not worth defending.
A Nation of Sheep’s attack on the sad state of government in America is not limited to the Bush Administration’s trampling of the Fourth Amendment, however. I focus on that aspect of the book only to emphasize the irony that we now live under a government — ironically also headed by a man named George — that shows the same disrespect for what our Founders deemed a fundamental right as the regime of George III. Napolitano also discusses the Administration’s assault on the Geneva Conventions, the right of habeas corpus, the freedom of the press, and other fundamental liberties. I recommend this book to anyone concerned about the state of constitutional government in America today.
Napolitano offers several suggestions for improving things, such as repealing the 16th Amendment, which gives the federal government the power to tax our incomes. This would leave the government with less money to wage war on other nations and our liberties. Napolitano’s bold overarching suggestion, however, is that Americans emulate the Founding Fathers and begin acting like wolves, not sheep. This can best be accomplished by electing the only wolf running for president, Congressman Ron Paul. Napolitano accurately describes Paul as the one candidate who does not "love power for its own sake, believe that Big Government should redistribute wealth, regard the Constitution as a quaint obstacle, and would enforce or disregard laws as they saw fit . . . without regard to our history, our values, or our natural rights."
Andrew Young [send him mail] is a law student at the University of Louisville. He holds a B.A. in history from Kentucky Wesleyan College.