Photo by Saúl Bucio on Unsplash

With criminal justice reforms continuing to be a hot-button topic, I find it interesting that the most fundamental question hasn’t been openly asked: Are our courts legitimate anymore?

I would answer “no.” 

I say this after five years in prison with numerous efforts to get back into court to re-argue my case based on new evidence. I say this because, in all my experiences, I have never once heard a judge referred to as “a neutral arbiter.” They are instead referred to as “left leaning” or “right leaning” or some other such label. 

This argument is playing out before our very eyes as the U.S. Supreme Court is entertaining arguments about the constitutionality of abortion — a medical procedure. 

Before I get into this any further, allow me to be transparent about my own bias regarding this subject. First, I am 100% anti-abortion. Second, I am 100% pro-choice. They are two very separate issues and not in any way related. 

I’m certain that upset everyone. However, I am fairly certain that, given the proper circumstances, you will find that you would demand the right to choose and demand the right to life. Again, abortion is a medical procedure. 

The debate now occurring in the Supreme Court should be about whether or not a human being has the constitutional right to choose to have a medical procedure. That is not what is being discussed and debated. Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court is discussing and debating the morality of abortion. 

At no time should any court be deciding on morality, which is very subjective, contextual and relative. 

Not only is the fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution being essentially ignored, but it is being done so with implicit and brazen bias. The “left” thinks this and will vote accordingly. The “right” thinks this and will vote accordingly. This is not neutral arbitration. Therefore, the court is not legitimate. 

This same problem is so widespread, down to the lowest court in the most backwoods rural area, that no court can be considered legitimate, and they haven’t been in a very long time if ever. 

Most U.S. drug laws are also solidly based on morality, especially now that we know them to be contrary to all known methods of handling addiction. 

When you see the Supreme Court arguing about the issue of abortion, hopefully you will note Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s statements about how the argument is further delegitimizing the already ruined perception of the courts. 

I would go a step further and say this is true for our entire government from the local government to the federal. 

Meteorology has a general rule for storms, which goes something like this: A storm will continue to intensify until the imbalances that created it are brought back into equilibrium. In this country, where our systems have been clearly exposed as illegitimate and illusory, the storm is just beginning. It is probably going to get very ugly before the balance is brought back.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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David Annarelli

David Annarelli is a father, musician, activist and writer. He was born in Ft. Worth and raised in Philadelphia by his adoptive parents. David began writing as a means of coping with incarceration. He is incarcerated in Virginia.