Judge Vance Day has enjoyed a distinguished career as an attorney, and as a Circuit Court Judge in the Third Judicial District. While serving as a Circuit Court judge, Vance started a veteran’s treatment court in Salem, Oregon. The goal of this innovative court was to target the root causes of veterans’ criminal behavior through a program tailored to address their needs that is created by the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the judge, other veterans, treatment providers, mentors, and support teams. While Day was running the program, there was a zero rate of recidivism.
Most recently, Vance served for a couple years as the president of Promise Keepers, leading the largest annual gatherings of Christian men. His new initiative is representing the James Madison Center for Free Speech. The James Madison Center for Free Speech was founded in response to a concerted attack on political speech which is at the core of the First Amendment and is essential to our democracy. Its purpose is to promote, through educational activities, respect for the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and to defend the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association by providing legal representation to those persons and entities whose rights are threatened by government action.
This is obviously a timely topic in our current social and political climate, so expect to learn a lot as Vance explains the scope and importance of the First Amendment.
Welcome to Cascade Views a discussion with Central Oregon leaders. Your host is Michael Sipe, local business and community leader Best Selling Author of the Avada principle and candidate for Oregon State Representative for House District 53, which encompasses Southern Redmond, Sisters, Tumalo and Northern Bend. The purpose of these discussions is to share the views and insights of local leaders from a variety of community sectors on a range of timely and important regional and state issues. With that now, here's your host, Michael Sipe.Michael Sipe:
Thanks for joining us on cascade views. My name is Michael Sipe, and I'll be your host. My guest today is Judge Vance de Vance has enjoyed a distinguished career as an attorney, and as a circuit court judge in the third Judicial District, while serving as a circuit court judge then started a veteran's treatment court in Salem, Oregon. The goal of this innovative court was to target the root causes of veterans criminal behavior through a program tailored to address their needs. It's created by the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the judge, other veterans, treatment providers, mentors and support teams. While they was running the program, there was a zero rate of recidivism. Most recently, Vance serve for a couple years as the president of Promise Keepers leading the largest annual gatherings of Christian men. His new initiative, though is representing the James Madison center for free speech. James Madison center for free speech was founded in response to a concerted attack on political speech, which is at the core of the First Amendment and is essential to our democracy. Its purpose is to promote through educational activities, respect for the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and to defend the rights of freedom of speech, and freedom of association by providing legal representation to those persons and entities whose rights are threatened by government action. This is obviously a timely topic in our current social and political climate. So I'm excited to have a few minutes learning more about it. Vance, welcome to the show.Vance Day:
It's great to be with you today. Mike, thanks for having me.Michael Sipe:
Oh, you bet. Well, to start off, how about giving us a little more insight into your judicial background, and I'd particularly like to hear just a little bit about veterans court, as I think that some of the lessons you learn from that might be instructive. In terms of some of the public safety challenges that we face today?Vance Day:
Well, in Oregon, as in most states, in order to become a circuit court judge, you got to be an attorney. So I've been attorney for 30 years now. I love the law. I love how we get to, you know, participate as lawyers and judges in in managing how people have conflict. And a lot of people think, you know, complex a bad thing. Well, actually, it's not. Sometimes it's through conflict, that we come up with a better resolution between parties that just don't seem to get along. And so what a judge does in Oregon primarily, is manage conflict. And so that's what we call litigation. And that can be criminal cases. It can be civil cases, the difference between the two most people recognize civil cases are those things like, you know, like contract disputes or domestic issues such as child custody, divorce, constitutional law, car wrecks, those are those are all civil kind of cases. And then of course, you have criminal cases, which of course, there's a statute that says this is a crime and people get charged by the police and the district attorney, and then they have to go to trial. So a circuit court judge in Oregon, handles everything from divorce to death penalty, constitutional, a lot of contracts, everything in between. And so that's what I did in Marion County, which is the third Judicial District and really enjoyed the work. It's a it's a pleasure to work on behalf of the public to help that process. Be fair, just, you know, a judge is like, I guess a referee you know, in the NFL field, where if somebody is You know, commit to foul or or violates the rule, you tossed the the yellow flag out and stop them. And so a judge's job is to make sure that those trials are fair, and that the rights that we have are respected and that the rules are followed. So that's what I did for my term was about seven and a half years. Most people don't know, Mike, that in Oregon, we elect our circuit court judges, our court of appeals judges, even our Supreme Court judges, but most of them are appointed by the governor first. And that's because when a judge whatever level you're at, ends up, you know, retiring or stepping down from their position, and the governor gets an appointment. And then when the person runs for a six year term, whichever comes, you know, next, the next election, they got this little thing on the ballot that says incumbent. And most people don't, you know, they don't know who their judges are, they don't know about their backgrounds. And I would just encourage people who are listening that next time you vote, and you all should vote, that you really look into your judges, particularly if there is a contested race to people wanting the same seat, because those are very important positions. And you need wise and experienced people to fill those positions.Michael Sipe:
Well, that's great advice. And I'm one of those folks that didn't realize about the kind of that whole selection process and well, let me just ask you briefly on that topic, if, if I were to try to check out the background of a judge, in terms of, you know, how I would vote, like, Where would I even go?Vance Day:
That's a hard one. Because, you know, there's kind of this, it's actually a written rule in the ethics, canons for judges that, you know, if a judge is running for election, he or she can't tell you where they stand on a variety of issues. So, you know, they just look vanilla to everybody. What I've done in the past, and where I go, is i i look at various local stories. So you know, I look at the person's background, I'll go to judge pedia. It's like Wikipedia, which I think that's what the name is, I don't have the right in front of me. But you can go to site like that and look up the judges background, what did they do? I mean, typically, if you have a person who is a judge who their background is in, you know, homeless law, or animal rights, or they worked for Planned Parenthood, or whatever it may be, you can get a sense of where they stand on the spectrum of political ideas. Just so you know, your listeners know, they're about 300 judges, state judges in Oregon circuit court, you know, that's like 280, judges, approximately. And those are the trial judges, then there's two, two appeals levels. There's the Court of Appeals, that's 13 judges and seven judges on the Oregon Supreme Court. Now, from my perspective, this is just my perspective, Mike. But I would say 90% of those judges are to center left to far left just in their perspectives. Why? Because they've been appointed by left to center, or even radical governors for over 40 years. 36 years, actually, I think was the last Republican governor that Oregon had. And so when a governor is picking a judge, that Governor is going to pick the judge that matches pretty much their political spectrum. So it's really hard to figure out who to vote for. If it's just one judge that's on the ballot might you know a lot of people just skip it, because it's not going to make any difference. That's called an under vote. But if there are two judges, you should do your homework, talk to judges talk to lawyers. What's that church? Like? How do they impact our community? What are they involved in, in our community? Are they just standing off to the side and throwing rocks at at at our culture are and who we are that kind of judge don't vote for?Michael Sipe:
Well, such good advice that wasn't actually I wasn't thinking we were going to get into this today. But I'm learning a lot every time I talk to you. I learned so much. I you know, though, I although I would love to talk about this for a long time, because there's so much that I realized that I don't know about judges and about the selection of them. What I really would like to hear about is the James Madison center today and so maybe you could kick that little discussion off by telling us how you got connectedVance Day:
Well, it's interesting, Mike, people may not know my background, but for about four years, I fought with the state of Oregon, they accused me of certain ethics violations, because I recused myself from same sex marriage based upon my liberty of conscience, my free speech, my religious rights as a person of faith under the First Amendment. And that seemed to take off a lot of the governmental elites. Those who believe because they're experts, they hold a position of power that they get to tell the rest of us what to do and how to do it, when to do it. And that's a violation of our inalienable rights as citizens, governmental elites, don't get to do that, under our Constitution. And only in limited circumstances can they control our activities. But in Oregon, there's a there's a lurch, in my opinion toward tyranny. And that is the executive branch that is way out of lie when it comes to telling us how to live, work and play, how to think. So the James Madison center in the midst of that battle, ended up representing me and in my appeal to the United States Supreme Court, they did an excellent job. It's a group of lawyers who do free speech, work, liberty of conscience Work First Amendment work across the nation, they've been very successful at the United States Supreme Court. And so I saw the quality of their work. When I left the bench. I didn't run again, after getting suspended by the Oregon Supreme Court for my my views on things in my opinion. I worked for about three years with Promise Keepers is first their CEO and then their president. And when I came back to Central Oregon, when my wife and I had moved from Salem, about three years ago, I had an opportunity to work alongside them. The Board reviewed a proposal that I made, which was really about Oregon free speech, we called it the Oregon free speech project. And and what we're trying to do here in Oregon, is inform and inspire, and activate really citizens to respectfully and responsibly which is really important, respectfully, in response, we make an impact in their communities in state via their inalienable rights. That's a big, long sentence. And most people wouldMichael Sipe:
Well, you know, and use a big word $10 Word like inalienable rights. You know, what that heck is that thing? I'm not an alien. But it's a real simple concept. You know, if if, if you're a person of faith, you're a person who understands that there's a lot more to this world than we really can see with our eyes. Meaning, if you start with the presupposition that you are a creative being, there is a Creator. Versus that you, you know, there is no design, there is no creator, we're just here by accident, you're gonna have a very different view of liberty and rights. Because if we're just here by accident, then we make our own rules, and Gosh, darn it, the majority can change the rules and just screw with the minority anytime they want. That's called tyranny. But if you're a created be, then our constitution which presupposes a creator, gives you in a reasonable rights, those don't come from government, they don't come from the governmental elite. They are ours, because we're human. And those include liberty of conscience, freedom of speech, the right to own property, the right to assemble to get together, the right to form associations. There's a list of an animal rights, the right to life. You can't take my life without due process. Those rights don't come from government, they come from God. And therefore, the civil government may take my life, but they can't take my liberty unless I give it up. And so the Oregon free speech project initiative is really designed to educate people throughout the state about those inalienable rights and how to stand up to tyranny by saying, Hold on, hold on. You don't have liberty to do that government. This is my inalienable right in to articulate that in a reasonable and responsible manner. You know, as citizens of the state of Oregon, we don't have to be, you know, angry all the time and pushing back and yelling and screaming. We can win In this battle for liberty, against tyranny, by being light, by being respectful by being responsible, and how we respond. So that's my job is to travel around Oregon to do it for free. And funding has already been secured. And I show up at community groups, churches, you know, associations, whoever. And I talk about that engage people, and it's a lot of fun. Because people get educated, they get inspired, they figure out, gosh, I can make a difference. I don't have to, I don't have to get rolled by these people who just keep on telling me what to do. So speaking,Michael Sipe:
speaking of education, Vance, would you just give me a quick, just a quick recap on how the Bill of Rights came to be about because, you know, as we talked about the First Amendment to the Constitution, that's part of the Bill of Rights, isn't it? Then, you know, how to why did we end up with a Bill of Rights? And I, we don't need to go too deep in history. But I think it's useful to look at this in the context of our conversation today.Vance Day:
Well, that's almost humorous that you'd say we don't have to go too deep into history when you're talking to a former history professor, I, I love history. So I canMichael Sipe:
I know you too. Well, my friend.Vance Day:
So our constitution was an is a overview of an outline of how we're going to function as 50 states in relation to a federal government. So you got to understand the context. You know, we had the Revolutionary War, won that war. And during that war, we created this, this this document that basically said, the 13 colonies will be states and will relate to each other this way. And, and have a very, very minor federal government, a government that kind of helps all 13 colonies and any other states that come along. And that document didn't work very well, the chaos. So after about six, seven years, there were a group of people, primarily James Madison, which is, of course related to the James Madison center for free speech, got together and designed this constitution, they were going to they were going to kind of redraft the the Articles of Confederation, which was the original document, but that wasn't working out too well. So they made a compromise. And they did this constitution thing of equal branches, three branches of power, legislative, executive, and judicial. There'll be checks and balances. The goal was to have a limited federal government that just just did certain things. So the Constitution was passed out to the States. It was ratified, and we had a constitution. But there were those members of the first Congress who really wanted to make amendments to the new constitution a big priority, because they were concerned that the federal government was not limited enough, meaning that the federal government would roll over our rights can become like a monarchy, or it could get out of control. So they really wanted to make it super clear. These 10 amendments are really important. And they're all about our rights, because we're just not comfortable with giving too much power to this thing called the federal government. So that's how the first 10 amendments came about. And the First Amendment is all about that liberty, speech, assembly, religious freedom of the press. It just, it captures the essence of our inalienable rights.Michael Sipe:
That's really, really helpful and insane. So good job. Man, we obviously live in really contentious times. And there's claims about free speech rights. And everybody's got an opinion about this fine from all sides. What do you see the biggest challenges are in regard to the First Amendment in the current season? Well,Vance Day:
government, civil government, and then let me back up just a bit. Our founders in those political philosophers over the last 100 to 300 years, really understood that there are four levels of government five levels, if you want to include associations, and that's individual government. We have self government and a republic is based on the idea that each individual is supposed to govern themselves. They have a duty to do that. And then there's family government, which is parental rights. There's church and Business Association, government, if you can include those. They've got liberties, too. guide themselves and to govern themselves. And then you have civil government, which is people make the mistake of, of it's understandable. They refer to government, but they're really talking about is just civil government, you know, the state governments, local governments, county, government, federal government. But our republic is based on the notion of individual government, family government, and we delegate some of our liberties, those things that we should be taking care of, to a state government or to a federal government, so they can do those for us and with us, but we're in charge, we the people. So the danger today, in my opinion, like is that civil government, particularly state governor, we see this happen in Oregon all the time, they have gotten too big for their britches, frankly. And they've taken on so much authority, they they pull the authority away from families away from individuals away from business and associations. And they've said, no, no, we get to handle this, and you will do what we say. And the problem is people don't know enough about their liberties, their rights to say, Stop, no, that's not correct. And to push back, there are many people who are pushing back, but the more that begin to wake up, and recognize that our state and and counties and federal government particularly are way out of line, the more of us that push back, things will change, there will be ballots. The other problem I see, just from a constitutional vantage point is that there are three equal branches of government. And that's gotten way out of whack to like, you have the legislature that makes the laws, that's, you know, here in Oregon, the House and the Senate together, and then the governor has to sign them. That's a checks and balance system. And the and the judicial branch gets to overlook those laws and interpret them and decide if they're constitutional. Then you second branch is the executive branch. And the executive branch is supposed to execute those laws, enforce those laws, manage and, and make sure that they're put into effect. And then the judicial branch, which is the smallest branch, but it's still supposed to be as equal, as the other two is supposed to interpret the laws and make sure that they are constitutional, that the people's rights are not violated. So the problem is the executive branch has just taken on power and control into itself. And when you have a governor that decides, well, this COVID thing I get to decide, without a law, I'm going to interpret the law that says, I get to tell you how long you're going to wear a mask, whether you're going to get a vaccine, and whether you're getting punished and all those type of things or that that school districts get to tell parents what to do instead of the other way around. That's that that is a violation, in my opinion, of the balance of powers that our Constitution, state constitution and the federal constitution have outlined for these areas of government. So those are the two main problems that I see.Michael Sipe:
And I agree with you 100% on both of those, and frankly, it's it's a major reason that I'm running for state representative because those problems are so severe in Oregon right now. Well, as we start wrapping up, how can we support you and the James Madison center?Vance Day:
I appreciate you asking that. Mike, if any of you out there want to have one of those presentations, and it can be you know, half an hour to two hours. You just need to contact me at my personal email. It's five letters. It's really simple. V is in Victor D is in delta d is in delta P as in Papa, those are the five letters B D D firstname.lastname@example.org. And yes, I still have my training wheels on because I still have an AOL address but it's B D D PC Victor delta delta Papa email@example.com, just email me and say, Hey, I'd love to have you come to our community group or our church or association. I speak all over the place. And there is a documentary coming out Mike in the next couple of weeks than what happened to me. It's called the fight for liberty, the judge day stories part of the series about liberty, very highly produced a lot of interesting national folks that they interview. And so I show that documentary to groups that want to see that and then I talk about it and and inform people educate them on how they can enter How, how they can push back? What are their rights and how to do it reasonably responsibly.Michael Sipe:
Bands that's terrific and to our listeners. I've, I've listened to Vance a number of times as he's taught and, and taking copious notes, because anytime I get to be with you, Vance is an educational experience of the highest caliber. And so if you have a chance to invite him to speak, for a chance to catch one of his presentations, I highly recommend it. Well, my friend as much as I think our listeners, and I could use a few more hours with you right now learning about the Bill of Rights and, and the Constitution. We'd better wrap this up. It's been a real pleasure having you on the show. And my main takeaway is the reminder about the the levels of government and, you know, personal government and family, government and business, church government and the responsibilities to lead there and to not abdicate those. So that was a great reminder, and I'm really grateful. Sure. Appreciate your time and your message today, Vance.Vance Day:
Well, thanks for having me, Mike. It's always a pleasure to chat with you and your listeners.Michael Sipe:
My guest today has been judge Vance de you can learn more about the James Madison center for free speech at James Madison center.org. That's James Madison center.org. Thanks for tuning in. Have a great day.