Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

A hot topic currently amongst the delegates in our State is what is MCL and why doesn’t it rule our organization.  I am not a lawyer, and don’t claim to be, but I seem to have had many attorney’s in my immediate circles of friends over the years, and let’s call it osmosis.  So I take notice when something so clear, as Statute vs. Case Law (Common Law) can be misinterpreted.

First, let’s put to bed the concept that Statutory law (MCL USC) is supreme in the order of Authority.  It is above Case law (common law), but there is one order above it, the various States & Federal  Constitutions.  I think we can all agree on that.  And for the most part, I think we all agree that Statutory law is the secondary law of the land.  What do I mean by secondary law of the land ?

Well, we all know that our Federal and State Constitutions are the “Supreme Law of the Land” and we assume that all laws and actions by our government are benign.  Right? I say that tongue and cheek, because we know all governments throughout time have skirted, ignored, and disregarded the established law and common law when it suits their needs.  It is the nature of why we hold our elected officials to account and why our founders first stated something about ‘long train of abuses … “ and followed it up with our Constitution.

But, even our constitution needs to be amended and properly interpreted.  I will give you a case of Judicial overreach.  Korematsu v. U.S..  The case supported the use of Executive power to take away those rights enshrined in our Constitution.  We currently see the use of Executive Branch abuses to intern American citizens against their will, without just cause, violating their U.S. Constitutional rights.  Sound familiar, pretty much like January 6th.  We know governments abuse power, and ultimately they were remedied by the Court system, i.e. case law, common law, common sense.

So you wonder why I bring you here to such a mundane argument as why an organizations bylaw’s are not subject to Statutory law.  Well, I am not stating that they are “not” subject to Statutory law, but rather, subject to a higher law, the U.S. Constitution. This point we should agree on; and more to the point,  an organization’s bylaws cannot preclude or conflict with Statutory Law, i.e. MCL, USC.  In so far as they are not violating that higher law, the U.S. Constitution.

So why does a private organizations bylaws trump MCL or US Code.  Why, because of Case Law and the Constitution. You may say that Statutory law is supreme to case law.  Well the chain of authority, which is commonly cited and taught in law school as standard practice, it also is taught that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  There are actions in the courts to remedy rights taken away by statue.  Remember Checks and Balances. We would think that you couldn’t pass a law, or more to the point make an executive order based on previous law disallowing the purchase of garden seeds, but it happened.  So, why would you think its ok to allow a government body to determine how you conduct your right to assemble or right to worship. 

In Heitmanus v. Austin, the clearly prevailing protection isn’t from the court creating new law through interpretation, but rather it is from our U.S. Constitution, as is cited in the case.  This isn’t a case of “Case Law” overruling clear black letter law for no good reason.  It sets precedent, because our Constitution has clear rights enumerated, and whereas assembly or more to the point, an organizations bylaws are their assemblage or the organization, the right to do so as a private entity are not to be impeded upon by the state(Government).  And that vacuum thing again, caveat is where they don’t trample on others Constitutional rights.

So, Maybury v. Madison started this whole Judicial review thing, and for better or worse, it has allowed for the evolution of case law and more to the point is an important part of our judicial process, which starts with “A Bill”   but we never hear what happened to Bill …. He ended up growing up (amended and redressed by the courts), because Bill needed to grow up.


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