Lester Pearce, New Presiding Judge of Justice Courts, Takes Bible-Based Views of U.S. Constitution on the Road
And the former lawmaker, who's poised to become the next presiding judge of the justice courts, has been taking those ideas on tour.
He taught a seminar recently on how the Constitution is an "ancient" document inspired by the Hebrew God, according to an article published last week in Atlantic Monthly.
Pearce seems to be off his rocker, if half of the story by Garrett Epps, a former Washington Post reporter, is true.
Epps, also constitutional law scholar, describes attending a recent seminar in the basement of Our Savior's Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Virginia, during which Pearce, the instructor, blathered about Mexicans, Moses and President Obama's aunt.
The seminar was sponsored by an Idaho-group called the National Center for Constitutional Studies. The group's absurd seminar-teaching material, which we've just reviewed, can be seen here. Basically, the material explains how Moses came up with the perfect way to govern 3 million Israelites, and how that system was exported to England because the Anglo-Saxons are descended from one of the fabled "Lost Tribes of Israel." The Founding Fathers, most notably Thomas Jefferson, then based the political system of the United States on the "ancient" rules.
Jefferson does seem to refer to Anglo-Saxon origins of a freedom-loving, "we-the-people"-based government in quotes attributed to him in the materials. But the material is so obviously biased toward this idea of a Bible-based Constitution, we think it's safe to assume the quotes are out of context.
Pearce spent half the day's talk on the supposed "origins" of the Constitution, Epps writes. During the seminar, which was attended by about 50 people, Pearce said he'd like to see undocumented Mexicans leave Arizona -- along with some Americans he doesn't agree with:
"I wrote a bill when I was in the legislature to give [the Gadsden Purchase] back to Mexico, because we had people in Tucson who were socialists." Mexico didn't want them, he says.
Epps quotes Pearce as saying the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, violated states' rights. (The implication is that Pearce supports states' rights above the 19th Amendment suffrage act.)
Pearce "warns" the seminar crowd that,
"The divisions are going to become greater and greater ... It's not between the haves and the have-nots. It's between the haves and the entitled. Have you ever seen an interview with Obama's aunt? She says, 'they owe me.'" The one bright spot is Arizona's permissive concealed-weapon law, he explains. When the U.N. troops arrive, "they're going to have trouble."
Pearce is welcome to his First Amendment rights, as much as we are. But it's astonishing to see this level of impartiality in the mind of a sitting judge. We can only imagine what he's thinking about the women, Hispanics or "Islamics," as he reportedly calls Muslims, who stand before him in court.
Worse, Pearce now represents the entire Justice Court system in Maricopa County, because he's been elected to finish out the term of the previous presiding judge, John Ore. We're not unhappy to see Ore go, because he was the go-to guy when Sheriff Joe Arpaio needed a sketchy search warrant signed. But Pearce, given his now-public take on the Constitution, sure doesn't seem like a positive change.
Terry Stewart, the justice courts administrator, tells us that Pearce will serve out the remainder of Ore's term until June, at which time the county's 25 Justices of the Peace will hold another election.
We left a message for the judge an hour ago, but he hasn't returned our call.
He's probably busy teaching in another church basement a thousand miles from Mesa.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.