Ending Self-Government: CA Bill Puts Non-citizens On Juries

“Democracy” isn’t just one man, one vote. It is fundamentally a label that applies to a nation that has self-government. Anyone reading Thomas Paine’s Common Sense or much other literature from the time leading up to the American Revolution will find a great deal of attention given to arguing that Americans should govern themselves rather than allow the British government to rule them any longer. This could apply to the Americans being permitted to vote for the form of government or for the officers that should run that government. It would also apply to the right to be heard and judged by a jury of one’s peers.

Ever since the Magna Carta (with roots going earlier) one fundamental guard of the people against their government has been the sovereignty of the jury.

A California law has been passed that allows non-citizens to be placed on juries. The sponsor of the bill was quoted in the New York Times:

“‘Being a juror really has nothing to do with being a citizen,’ Mr. Wieckowski said. ‘You don’t release your prejudices or histories just because you take an oath of citizenship, and you don’t lose the ability to listen to testimony impartially just because you haven’t taken that oath either.’ He said that roughly 15 percent of people who received a jury duty summons never showed up and that the legislation would make it easier to impanel juries. Mr. Wieckowski said that he expected the governor to sign the bill and that the changes would quickly become accepted. ‘It’s the same thing that happened with gay marriage: people got past their initial prejudices and realized it was just discrimination,’ he said.”

I do appreciate Wieckowski linking his pet project to the belief in oxymoronic “gay marriage.” Both are atrocities against logic and grammar.

No state government in the United States has any more right to put a foreigner on a jury in a US courtroom than it has to transport the accused to Mexico or some other foreign country to be tried there. Self-government is meaningless if there is no longer an identifiable “self.” If foreign citizens can be on juries, then why can’t judges visiting from China or Russia be given US cases to try while they are here?

Don’t think that this is a pro-immigrant bill. It is not. The point is to further humiliate and denigrate the institution of the jury. Juries are already being disparaged and neutralized by judges determining what arguments they are permitted to hear. The politicians would love nothing better to give even more power to politically-appointed judges.

Naturally, foreigners would be even less likely to know about or understand jury nullification. How convenient for prosecutors and legislators.

Wieckowski’s claim that the state needs to be able to use non-citizen jurors is a lie. “6 million Californians showed up for jury duty last year and that 165,000 were chosen.”

Women and minorities made their case against being excluded from juries because they were fellow US citizens. Many Hispanics are US citizens as well. We have citizens of every race, ethnicity, and religion. And all of them have a right to be tried before a jury of fellow Americans. Foreign residents have neither the obligation to fulfill nor the right to usurp that office.