Democracy is a tool and often the values of the system are found in the means of controlling power. This can happen with elections and popular initiatives, and even judges and justices can be put under the microscope for elections and retention votes.
What are the values of a society? In the United States, we find some of the answers in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. While the Declaration does not have legal force, it is often very persuasive in providing the attitude of the Founders when they were establishing their own country and their own systems.
The Declaration of Independence says “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The 5th Amendment is slightly different, protecting, “life, liberty, and property” from the predations of a government hungry to control the public and individuals.
Property is about what one can own, and so it is similar to liberty in the sense of having those rights, to own and control one’s own properties. One can pursue happiness and that sounds very much like “liberty with a smile.” The Revolution was to a great degree about who has the final word over property and liberty, not to mention life itself.
I believe property rights are the very bedrock of any society and how this is treated shows the values of each society. Some place greater emphasis on security and stability and use the state to achieve that. Social Security is one such example. The Democrats gained such a massive majority in Congress during the Great Depression, a time when the earlier chaos of capitalism came crashing down, and the People wanted a system to protect the most vulnerable. Social Security creates a stable source of income for almost everyone in the United States when they retire or become disabled. It is not based on maximizing the absolute size of the Trust Fund, but creating security, and security costs that capitalist perspective. If the Trust Fund collapsed because of being heavily invested in the stock market, for instance, almost every American would feel it and that loss of security is not worth the risk. That’s why it is called Social Security and not Social Investment Fund.
The 5th Amendment and its equivalents in each state’s bill of rights protect property, but not in the same way as Social Security. These legal rights of protection of property focus on the individual’s right to property protections and rightly make it difficult to unfairly burden one person when general taxation powers are available to meet the needs of the State and its programs. Even Social Security is funded through a tax, not singling out particular people to pay it. If Social Security was funded, suddenly, by saying all of Elon Musk’s property will be taken to fund Social Security, that would be too much. It would be a taking and compensable, and because of that, the State would not achieve very much, having to give back what it took because it singled someone out.
The flavor of property protection varies from state to state because state supreme courts have different attitudes and some are more willing to let the state take a person’s property, especially if that person is disfavored. In my case, for instance, I made a complaint about the Indiana Supreme Court, my former employer, violating the ADA, Title II, in 2014, and was immediately beset with retaliation by that court’s officers. At the end of the day, after violations of due process and a total failure to consider mitigating facts, my Indiana law license was suspended.
It was suspended not for anything I did in Indiana state courts, but instead what I argued in a handful of federal disability rights cases I filed. Not because those federal judges sanctioned or suspended me, because they didn’t. The Indiana Supreme Court had no suspension to reciprocally impose because those federal judges did not impose any sanction. Indiana’s rule against incompetence, Rule 3.1, was used to achieve a 180-day suspension that neither the Disciplinary Commission nor the hearing officer even wanted.
My law license is intangible property that can be compensated. However, it is also a federal crime to meddle in a federal lawsuit, and these cases were open or on appeal when Indiana struck in 2014. It’s common sense that you don’t file a disciplinary complaint like a trial balloon concerning matters that have not even happened yet. But Indiana doesn’t follow common sense. It pursues revenge, and I made an ADA complaint about my former employer. It’s not rocket science.
Attacking my 3 cases where I went to federal court pro se (for myself) violated 18 U.S.C. § 245(b)(1)(B). Attacking the one case wherein I represented a disabled man who just wanted his parenting time rights was obstruction, 18 U.S.C. § 1503(a), because I was acting as an officer of the court. Even the DOJ recognizes that attacking a private attorney is covered by 18 U.S.C. § 1503(a).
So, we have the Indiana Supreme Court and its officers violating federal criminal law to get even with a former employee who complained about over a decade of disability rights violations.
I would like the U.S. DOJ and others to start prosecuting because if this pattern is allowed against me, that means state supreme courts can meddle in federal cases and punish people for using the federal courts.
In my case, this was done to take my law license, earned while I worked for the Indiana Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of Indiana in 2002, serving every court in the state. While the original federal courts did not impose any sanction, they had no problem imposing reciprocal suspensions based on the Indiana suspension which was based on no suspension. You can see the error glaring out with bright yellow eyes. Those 4 federal courts imposed suspension on me without ever providing me due process for a sanction in the first place or a hearing for the bloviated reciprocal suspension which appeared ex nihilo to suit the anger of the Indiana Supreme Court. My former employer feels it has the right to retaliate when accusations of discrimination with facts are leveled against it.
I live in poverty and with severe disabilities from being poisoned by the U.S. Marine Corps at my birth and from a reckless driver who came into my lane and hit me head-on as I drove to the Indiana Supreme Court to work. That left me with two broken legs, a broken pelvis, and a broken skull. My property is now being taken because I complained that I was experiencing discrimination. You would think that after all that public service, disabilities from serving the nation and state, that I would have the right to complain about whatever I want without having to face retaliation. In fact, using the Courts is a First Amendment right and the 7th Circuit has explained it. Domanus v. Locke Lord LLP, 847 F.3d 469, 483 (7th Cir. 2017) (“Whether the branch of government is the legislature, the executive, or the courts, the right to present one’s viewpoint is protected by the First Amendment.”)
So, 5 law licenses have been taken from me because of the Indiana Supreme Court and its inability to accept criticism. The Indiana Court of Appeals wants to say that this First-Amendment-violating federal crime of taking my licenses justifies not paying me for taking 5 law licenses from me, 4 federal. Straw v. Indiana, 22A-PL-766 (Ind. Ct. App. 2022). As if that wasn’t enough, when I tried to amend as is my right under Indiana law, the Court of Appeals said that I lose because I don’t have enough money to pay the filing fee for the appeal. In forma pauperis (poverty status with right to proceed without paying fees) was denied me twice over one Court of Appeals judge’s dissent even when I have been granted in forma pauperis for my poverty and severe disabilities in public service 14x over the past 14 months. It is such nonsense to deny me when even the trial court had granted me in forma pauperis and did not take it back. Straw v. Indiana, 22A-PL-2352 (Ind. Ct. App.).
So, the Marine Corps and the Indiana Supreme Court “benefitted” from my becoming disabled, but then I am attacked for demanding my rights. My property is taken from me, 5 law licenses, and because I did not have enough property to pay the filing fee, the Indiana Court of Appeals took away my right to use that court. That’s a court closure, also unconstitutional under the Indiana Bill of Rights. Ind. Const. Art. 1, Sec. 12.
It’s not just he said, she said. Indiana invited the Virginia State Bar to suspend me just like the federal courts were doing in the Midwest. Only, VSB held an ACTUAL hearing, said that it reviewed 1500 pages of evidence, and found that the Indiana discipline, “had all the grace and charm of a drive-by shooting.” VSB said that I had proven I did not violate Rule 3.1 or any other rule in Virginia and if I had done the exact same things in Virginia, no discipline would have happened.
Indiana has property rights in its Constitution and claims to believe that the same property rights under the 14th Amendment are protected in Indiana.
But what about when the property is taken as an attack on a single person who sacrificed incredibly for the Indiana courts themselves, trashing his disability rights arguments in federal court? It violates the First Amendment. Domanus at 483. It violates federal criminal law. This discipline was ridiculed by another state.
One would think that 5 Republican justices would care about the property rights of someone who became disabled in part serving their own court and their own chief justice. But it’s not true. They don’t care. They are not protectors of property rights.
They are in the business of heaping praise on themselves while ruining the career of someone who gave more than them. One should not be surprised that property rights play second fiddle to revenge in Indiana.
The same Chief Justice Loretta Rush who wrote my suspension order also wrote the opinion in Timbs v. Indiana, 586 U.S. ___ (2019). In that case, the 5 Republican Indiana justices were overturned by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court. The Indiana justices did not want the 8th Amendment protection against unreasonable fines to be applied to the states. They were wrong and unanimously rejected in their false property analysis.
What is happening to me is part of the Indiana ban on all disabled people being lawyers. There is an actual law, a court rule doing that, while the rest of the nation embraces disabled lawyers. The Michigan Supreme Court has a blind justice. The Chief Justice of the United States learned American Sign Language to swear in deaf lawyers to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time in 2016.
At some point, someone is going to realize how bad it is to take property from me and individually punish me for almost 6 years (8 years since the disciplinary complaint) for speaking out in favor of disability rights for myself or others.
The Founders believed in property rights as a way to control the government and not allow it to oppress the individual. Taking my 5 law licenses is not like establishing Social Security to protect old and disabled people. Taking my licenses is oppressing a disabled person who got that way serving others. My voice should be amplified, not oppressed. Indiana has bad justices placed there by bad governors.
Indiana has a long way to go to even meet the requirements in its own bill of rights. When the discrimination stops, Indiana can rejoin the rest of the nation just like the South after Reconstruction. Indiana needs Disability Reconstruction, so badly, not anti-disability Jim Crow. Cf. Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927); Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978). Hopefully, 51 years after the abomination that was Stump v. Sparkman, not punishing an Indiana judge for ordering a young disabled woman to be sterilized without her knowledge, we will have a new era by 2029. That awful legacy of sterilizing disabled people took away basic human rights and property rights over one’s own body. Indiana led the world with its pernicious 1907 Eugenics Law and the courts have not fully denounced that attitude.
Indiana law and judges are not protecting property rights; the reason is that the voters in Indiana have been voting bad governors into office. There is only one cure for that. Vote for anyone but a Republican until the attitude changes. If you can’t bring yourself to vote for a Democrat, Libertarians are better than nothing.
In the meanwhile, vote NO to every Indiana appellate judge you see on your ballot for retention if you live in Indiana. The state constitution gives voters that power over people who seem drunk on their own power now, even taking away law licenses that should shock the judges’ hands when they touch them. Indiana’s justices and appellate judges have replaced constitutional property rights with vengeful, ad hominem politics. Replacing them starts with better governors.