(This article first appeared in IPWatchDog)
In my high school civics classes, I learned that the people created the American government by granting only certain rights to it. The rights we didn’t grant, we kept for ourselves or the States. I learned that law is the execution of the authority of government backed by legally applied violence. The authority of law was well understood by the people, so the people put in place mechanisms to separate powers to both control and limit the power of government. A loss of control or delimiting of power would certainly mean a loss of our rights.
A primary construct of the government we created is that the body closest to the people, Congress, was granted the sole and exclusive domain of writing law. Placing that power closest to the people helps to ensure that our rights are protected. The judicial branch, with its unelected lifetime appointed judges, was tasked to interpret the meaning of law – not to create law.
Unfortunately, my high school civics teacher was wrong. The part he didn’t understand was the reality of how government really operates. Today’s government is untethered to the very documents that created its existence in the first place. How the government uses its power and how the application of that power is separated for the protection of our rights is no longer a respected tenet of government – at least not respected by the government. The results we have not were long ago predicted. We lose our rights and that loss is clearly illustrated in the story of patent reform since 2005.