"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Is there a right to defy an unlawful court order in the U.S.?

Apple is reportedly defying a court order of a federal magistrate to create a backdoor for its iPhone for the FBI to use to spy on users of iPhone, including American citizens.

Apple reportedly indicated to the court that (1) such a backdoor does not exist at this time, (2) may not be technologically possible, and (3) while Apple has "cooperated" with FBI in the past (I wonder, how), for the government to require Apple to actually create a breach in privacy and security of their devices is going too far.

Apple is right, of course.

Not only it is a privacy problem as against the government, but, once such a backdoor is created, anybody with an iPhone will be open to breaches not only by the government, but by private hackers and to identity theft, exposing Apple to massive liability and loss of customers.

As good as iPhones are, they are not the only ones in the market, and people can always "vote with their feet" and refuse to buy iPhones if Apple complies with this court order.

I wonder how did it happen that a magistrate judge - who was never appointed by the President or confirmed by the Senate - is now making decisions of such overwhelming importance for every one of owners of iPhones, in the U.S. and around the world.

I also wonder whether Apple and its executives will be held in contempt of court and otherwise sanctions for defying an obviously unlawful court order.

Because, in this country judges are treated as deities and anything that comes out of their dainty mouths is considered as mandatory law.  Even if what comes out of their dainty mouths is screamingly unlawful and unconstitutional.

We will see whether Apple will be punished for civil disobedience, or whether it will be allowed to set up a precedent of civil disobedience to an unlawful court order.

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