To the Editor:
By the year 1808, the eastern Cherokee had adopted a written legal code. In 1820, they established judicial districts and appointed judges for these districts. By 1822 the Cherokee had established a Supreme Court, and in 1827 had drawn up a Constitution, based on the United States Constitution.
It all came to an end in July 1829 when gold was found on Ward’s Creek in Lumpkin County, Georgia. The Georgia Legislature passed laws confiscating Indian lands, nullifying Cherokee law, and forbidding assembly of the Cherokee people. They were aided in this by the then President of the United States, Andrew Jackson.
The Cherokee fought back by turning to the U. S. court system. The final verdict was rendered on March 3 of 1832. The Supreme Court of the U. S. ruled in the case of Worcester v. Georgia that Georgia’s laws against the Cherokee were unconstitutional.
The decision was handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall. President Jackson’s reply to this was: “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Andrew Jackson believed himself to be above the court system and the law and ignored the ruling.
Next time you view a TV news report concerning President Trump in the Oval Office, please note the presidential portrait he has chosen to hang in that space. It is the portrait of Andrew Jackson, whom Mr. Trump seems to emulate. I fear we have not seen the last president that seems to disregard the court system and the rule of law.
Richard Nixon was once asked in an interview by David Frost if the President could give an illegal order. Nixon’s reply was that if the order was given by the President, then it could not be illegal. We see where that led. Yet even Nixon did not defy the Supreme Court when ordered to turn over the Watergate tapes, though there did seem to be a convenient 18-minute gap in the recording.
Mr. Trump seems to be attempting a concerted effort to denigrate the courts, the legal system, and the news media. It is an effort to convince the people of this country that these institutions are not to be trusted, that trust and loyalty should only be given to Mr. Trump and to those to whom he delegates power. We need to remember that the reason that we have laws is to protect those that do not have the power to protect themselves.
Our current president has shown his disregard for the rule of law by pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted in federal court of defying the federal law, and Dinesh D’Souza for pleading guilty to campaign finance violations. Both men were found guilty by the court system. Both men have not shown any signs of regret for their transgressions on society and the law. Both men have been pardoned by a president that has little regard for the rule of law. Do we really want or need another Andrew Jackson?