Thank you for visiting my web site! Angell Law Offices, LLC was founded in 2004 by Robert Angell, a former assistant Ohio attorney general and a practitioner in the courts and agencies of Ohio and Colorado, as well as federal trial and appellate courts, for twenty-seven years. My philosophy is to help people reason together to solve legal problems, and to represent my clients with professionalism, diligence, compassion and tact. I work with a diverse client base including individuals, business entities, and government agencies, without regard to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, or gender orientation.
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Angell Law Offices, LLC
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This will be my default method of scheduling and conducting consultations, even after the pandemic subsides. I can set up an in-person or telephone consultation by special arrangement.
What Would Madison Do?
Let me get this out of the way up front: I am a moderate, politically speaking. I think the best way to avoid running into the ditch on either side is to stay in the middle of the road. Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives pooh-pooh moderates, believing they are people who just can’t commit to a cause. So be it. I would rather hold to principles than commit to a cause. I would submit that the Founders (some of whom I am descended from) were moderates, driven to revolutionary action by an oppressive hereditary monarch in the mother country. Most, but not all, were men of some means, and all were aware of the fate that awaited them if they failed. (Franklin: “We must all hang together, or we will all hang separately.”)
Another thing you should know about me is that I practiced constitutional law as a defense attorney for several years, litigating cases in federal court. I also took an oath when I became a lawyer to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States – not to sit in an academic office somewhere and spout revolutionary theories about the document, or, worse, actively seek to undermine and do away with it. I guess you would call me a constitutional moderate, or a moderate constitutionalist.
In this space, leading up to Election Day, I will state my views on the political situation in the United States, the rule of law, and the supremacy of the Constitution. I will quote extensively from the Founders and others who faced challenges similar to ours today. There is nothing new under the sun here, except perhaps for the numbers of people who are advocating revolutionary change and the extent of active involvement of political parties in these movements.
The Framers of the Constitution were faced with the task of convincing the public that the new governmental structure was necessary to cure the ills experienced under the Articles of Confederation. However, the larger, richer states – New York, Massachusetts, Virginia – were doing well under the Confederation. Three men – Alexander Hamilton of New York, and James Madison and John Jay of Virginia – undertook the job of persuasion by publishing a series of 85 essays under the pen name “Publius.” These essays are known to us today as the Federalist Papers. Other than the notes taken by the Constitutional Convention delegates, they contain the clearest exposition of what the new government structure was meant to do and how it was meant to function, what it was meant to promote and what it was meant to prevent.
The Federalist Papers also expose the fears and apprehension the authors felt for the survival of the new government. The Framers were educated men who were well aware of the lessons of history and of human nature, and the forces which might threaten to tear the new government apart were a frequent topic. One of those fears was of the destructive nature of factions. In Federalist 9, Hamilton wrote:
A firm Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the States as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection. It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy.
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From [these] disorders … the advocates of despotism have drawn arguments, not only against the forms of republican government, but against the very principles of civil liberty. They have decried all free government as inconsistent with the order of society[.] If it had been found impracticable to have devised models of a more perfect structure, the enlightened friends to liberty would have been obliged to abandon the cause of that species of government as indefensible. … The science of politics, however, like most other sciences, has received great improvement. The efficacy of various principles is now well understood[.] … The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election: these … have made their principal progress towards perfection in modern times. They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellencies of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided.
In Federalist 10, Madison explored the topic further:
Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. … The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished, as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations.
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By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. … As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. … The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is … an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of those faculties is the first object of government.
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The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man[.] … A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well as speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities that where no substantial occasion presents itself the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.
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It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.
Madison (other than describing 2020 with excruciating accuracy) understood that the causes of faction were inherent in the nature of human beings. He hoped to mitigate the depredations of faction by controlling its effects. He hoped that a large, diverse republic would be able to mitigate the effects of destructive factions in one part of that republic: “A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it, in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district than an entire State.”
Madison’s fears have become a stark reality in 2020. The major political parties themselves have devolved into bitter, quarreling factions, bent on destroying one another, disregarding the rule of law, and turning on the body politic like a cancer. The scourge of identity politics has ensured that the people likewise are divided into antagonistic camps. Contempt for the law and for legitimate government authority permeate our society from top to bottom. As this is written, motley collections of insurrectionists control areas of some cities. Criminal acts such as rioting, arson, and looting go largely unchecked. None of the tactics that convulsed our country during the past summer would come as any surprise to Trotsky, Lenin, or the Brownshirts. Behind these acts are shadowy anarchists, totalitarians, and others bent on destroying America, both in fact and as a set of ideals. They demand that local police forces be defunded or disbanded, while they deny the right of the federal government to defend itself, and the right of the people to defend themselves. The official response to these outrages includes doing nothing and indulging demands for nonsense gestures such as demolishing statues of Christopher Columbus.
What would Madison – or any of the Founders, for that matter – do? One way to make an educated guess is to look at what they actually did in similar circumstances. In response to the so-called “Whiskey Rebellion” of 1791-94, President Washington sent “peace commissioners” to western Pennsylvania to negotiate with the rebellious farmers, and, at the same time, called on governors to raise and send a militia force to put down what had become an armed uprising. Washington himself led the 13,000-man militia force provided by the governors of four states. The affair ended without bloodshed, because the rebels dispersed and went home before the arrival of the army.
In Shays’ Rebellion (1786-87), a group of about 4,000 rebels led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays marched on the federal armory at Springfield, Massachusetts in a protest against perceived economic and civil rights injustices. The federal government, still insolvent after the war, was unable to finance troops to put down the rebellion, but it was ended by the Massachusetts state militia and a privately funded local militia force. Many people at this time felt that the Articles of Confederation needed to be reformed, and the rebellion served as a catalyst for the Constitutional Convention.
The lawlessness in our streets and our government is simply incompatible with the guiding principles of a constitutional government. We need to rid our government of the anarchists and totalitarians, and clear the streets. Unfortunately, we have gone down a road from which there may be no returning. As a moderate constitutionalist, however, I will vote for the candidates I feel are more likely to pursue those objectives and restore constitutional order and the rule of law. I am not so naïve as to believe that I will ever get back the country I grew up in, but I will not abet the destruction of what is left.