Andrew Napolitano

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Andrew P. Napolitano or Judge Napolitano (born 6 June 1950) is a former New Jersey Superior Court Judge and adjunct professor of constitutional law and now an author, a lecturer, and a television personality.[1] His chief claim to fame is his consistent advocacy of strict construction of the United States Constitution and his opposition to all politicians, regardless of their stated intentions, who ignore or flout the Constitution in their exercise of statecraft.

Napolitano is currently the host of Freedom Watch on the Fox Business Network and an analyst for Fox News. He is a strong libertarian, supporter of the United States Constitution, close associate of Glenn Beck, and a supporter of Ron Paul.

Contents

Education

Andrew Napolitano was born on 6 June 1950 in Newark, New Jersey. He earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1972 and his degree of Jurisprudentiae Doctor from Notre Dame University School of Law in 1975.

Career

He spent twelve years in private law practice, and in 1984 became an adjunct (that is, part-time) professor of constitutional law at Seton Hall University School of Law. In 1987 he was appointed as a New Jersey Superior Court judge. He served on this court for eight years, the youngest life-tenured jurist in the history of that court, while continuing his adjunct professorship.[2] Students at Seton Hall voted him the most outstanding professor in three different academic years.[1]

In 1995, he retired from the bench and returned to the private practice of law. In that same year he also began his present career in broadcasting, chiefly in television. He worked first at CNBC and then became Senior Judicial Analyst at the Fox News Channel in 1998.[3]

Political and Judicial Philosophy

In two separate and extensive interviews with staff writers at Reason Magazine,[3][4] Judge Napolitano has described his views on civil liberty and the abuse of governmental power, and how his own personal attitudes changed markedly from those he once held while at Princeton. As he explained to Reason writer Nick Gillespie, eight years of trying criminal and other cases in New Jersey's Superior Court first made him aware that many law-enforcement agents stretch the truth while testifying.[3] This, and his consistent reverence for the Constitution and his relentless application of logic, led him to conclude that governments under both Republican and Democratic administrations have been slowly accumulating a degree of power that he finds inconsistent with individual liberty. He dates this acquisition of power to 1932, the year of the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt as President of the United States, and accuses Roosevelt of promulgating a doctrine of legal positivism or legal realism, by which "the law is whatever the lawgiver says it is," any time the lawgiver says it.

In contrast, Napolitano prefers Natural Law, which states that rights come from God, Who, as the Most Free Person in existence, has instilled in all of mankind a yearning to be free. Napolitano cites the Declaration of Independence and other works by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as his principal authorities.

Practical application

While at the Fox News Channel, Andrew Napolitano quickly earned a reputation as the sole voice of caution, and even of alarm, concerning the conduct by the George W. Bush administration of the War on Terror. He repeatedly warned his colleagues that the USA-PATRIOT Act violated the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. In his interviews with Gillespie and Doherty at Reason he pointed to several very little-known provisions in that Act that, he says, are reminiscent of the "writs of assistance" that British officers during the reign of George III routinely wrote to justify unreasonable searches and seizures.[3][4] He also charges that the Patriot Act was one of many bills that Congress essentially passed without reading, and that its hurried passage set a precedent that Barack Obama attempted to copy.

Many of Napolitano's detractors have accused him of being a willing apologist for the Bush administration, especially since he has become an outspoken and relentless critic of the Obama Administration. But his record, and his interviews at Reason that he granted long before anyone even imagined that Barack Obama would in fact be elected President, clearly demonstrate otherwise. Napolitano's profile at the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network has certainly heightened significantly in the last year, with semi-regular appearances on programs hosted by Neil Cavuto and Glenn Beck (and even appearances as a replacement host for the latter). But in fact that heightening of his profile dates, not from the promulgation of Barack Obama's legislative agenda, nor his inauguration, nor even his election, but from the promulgation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program in October of 2008,a piece of legislation upon which Napolitano has poured the utmost contempt, a month before the election.

Placement in political spectrum

Andrew Napolitano cannot, strictly speaking, be called a conservative. Rather, he is a libertarian. His primary concern is not with any particular public-policy result but rather with the maintenance of a process that emphasizes individual liberty above all else. He objects in principle to capital punishment for any offense, no matter how heinous, on the theory that Natural Law does not authorize the State to take life, except in the immediate defense of its citizens when the aggressor is not subject to any gentler means of restraint. Furthermore, he stands against any form of prohibition, whether of alcoholic drinks or of any sort of pharmaceutical agent, recreational or otherwise. Whether his objections are primarily principled or flow from his observation that laws that "control" any substance must inevitably compromise the procedural protections of the individual against the state in their enforcement (an insight he gained after eight years on the bench), he has never explicitly clarified.

That said, he is a consistent defender of the basic right of an individual to keep and bear arms, as stated in the Second Amendment. He is opposed to all forms of what is commonly called "regulation" today, whether of commerce or of personal activity. He interprets the Constitution's directive to Congress to "regulate interstate commerce" in what he asserts is the intended meaning: to make such commerce more regular by setting uniform standards to which all States must adhere.

On one issue some libertarians might find him inconsistent, and that is the issue of abortion. As he stated to Nick Gillespie of Reason, he believes that abortion is a form of murder, and he would prosecute any abortion provider on a charge of murder in the first degree. By way of explanation, he states that a child, even unborn, has the same basic right to life as has any adult, and he finds no basis for denying to an unborn child the same rights and protections under the law as any born child or adult would enjoy.[3] That said, he would not be in favor of a Federal statute or Constiutional amemdnment prohibiting abortion, because murder, in any degree, is not and should not be a Federal matter. But he would overturn all Supreme Court precedents that currently forbid a State to prosecute an abortion provider exactly as he suggests, and then leave to any State government the decision of whether to regard abortion as a lawful activity, or a misdemeanor, or a felony, even including murder.

Publications

Books

  • Constitutional Chaos: What Happens when the Government Breaks Its Own Laws. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 11 November 2004. 256 pages, cloth. ISBN 9780785260837
  • Constitution in Exile, The: How the Federal Government has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 18 April 2006. 320 pages, cloth. ISBN 9781595550309
  • Nation of Sheep, A. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 30 October 2007. 256 pages, cloth. ISBN 9781595550972
  • Dred Scott's Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom in America. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 21 April 2009. 320 pages, cloth. ISBN 9781595552655
  • Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power and Deception in American History (pre-publication) Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2 March 2010. 256 pages, cloth. ISBN 9781595552662

Periodicals in which his articles have appeared

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Napolitano A, "About the Judge," Judge Andrew Napolitano: The Constitution in Exile, accessed 18 September 2009.
  2. "Andrew P. Napolitano," Fox News Channel, accessed 18 September 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Gillespie N, "The Born-Again Individualist: Fox News Channel's Judge Andrew Napolitano on lying cops, out-of-control government, and his bestselling new book, Constitutional Chaos," Reason, March 2005. Accessed 18 September 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Doherty B, "Americans: Sheep to the Constitutional Slaughter?" Reason, 15 November 2007. Accessed 18 September 2009.

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