The State of New Hampshire has chosen to suspend jury trials for the month of January 2009 in order to save money. Consider however, that some of the initial immigrants to the New World sought refuge from politically influenced and controlled courts. The founders of this country who understood that history will repeat itself supplemented the U.S. Constitution with Amendments. Amendment number six: the right to a speedy and public trial before a jury of peers. This Amendment is not a suggestion or a frivolity to be discarded.
No, the right to a jury trial must be preserved. The Founding Fathers understood this necessity. In a New York Times story dated December 8, 2009, New Hampshire’s chief justice said “suspending trials was essential to avoid layoffs in the judicial system, which has already cut $2.7 million from its budget.”
Why would the state ask to cut the budget of the courts? All government departments and divisions are not created equally. The US Constitution does not mandate the existence of many to superfluous government entities. But the Courts, the Courts are different. If the State of New Hampshire wants to cut budgets and money, they should fire non-essential employees in other divisions: does a governor need more than a secretary to keep up with a schedule? Do the other departments need middle management?
The right to a jury trial is sacrosanct. If State governments with their attendant politicians are placing priority on maintaining employees rather than the mandates of the Constitution, the priorities of this country are sadly misplaced. The U.S. Constitution created more than 200 years ago transcends individual politicians, agendas, and economic times. Thankfully the Courts combatted modifications proposed by many presidents, including massive changes proposed by FDR. The Courts ushered in significant changes in civil rights and individual rights.
When we as Americans permit politicians to ignore the imperatives of the U.S. Constitution, we participate in the erosion of our inherent rights. Law abiding citizens may live under the false assumption that criminals should not have these rights. This belief is flawed. Individuals charged with crimes remain innocent and innocent people are charged with crimes routinely. The mandate of the Constitution applies all people not just those we find palatable or would invite home for dinner. The rights being eroded belong to all of us equally. The jobs being preserved are temporary. The rights being eroded are inherent. We as a country need to consider our priorities!