It happens every day: someone in federal government arbitrarily assumes the responsibility and authority to ignore lawbreaking of every kind. Whether that lawbreaking is the selling or using marijuana, (which doing so is a federal offense) crossing American borders without legal authority, passing along classified government information and/or documents to a media organization, or using open source or unsecured computer or other electronic devices for the dissemination of classified information, each is a violation of a federal law. Apparently, these acts and others are committed daily across the U.S. Yet more often than not, these criminal acts are ignored by authorities.
What has happened to the enforcement of Law in the United States? Aren’t we a nation established on the premise that the United States Constitution was and is a template on which government was established and to function — especially regarding the enforcement of ALL laws passed according to the Constitutional process for doing so? Isn’t that process called “The Rule of Law?”
Rule of Law
In its simplest form, the “Rule of Law” means that “no one is above the law.” It is the foundation for the development of peaceful, equitable and prosperous societies. For the rule of law to be effective, there must be equality under the law, transparency of law, an independent judiciary and access to legal remedy. Yet, about 57% of the world’s population lives outside the shelter of the law. That’s five billion people struggling for basic, human rights on a daily basis.
American citizens and all those who come into our country have access to that “Rule of Law,” even those who cross into the United States illegally. That’s something of a paradox, but it’s true: once here every person Constitutionally is granted certain rights and must adhere to U.S. law.
The rule of law is a critical key to a just society and democracy. It dictates that laws of the land be transparent, known to everyone and applicable to all. No one, regardless of title, position or wealth can be held above the law and government decisions must be predictable because they follow known legal principles and encoded rules known as “laws.”
For most of the 19th century, America was far ahead of the rest of the world in its consistent and thorough efforts to adhere to the rule of law and strive toward equal opportunity for its citizens regardless of class, wealth or title. While politicians and individuals acting in self-interest have frequently violated this key principle (seems to be human nature for some), historically the courts were able to correct back to founding principles. If applying the law of the land results in an amazingly unfair or unjust outcome in a particular set of facts, courts are able to restore balance and respect for the rule of law through the principles of equity.
The “Rub” for Most Americans
What’s the complaint from average Americans about the Law? It’s not enforced equally or it’s not enforced at all!
How many specific instances can you name where lawbreakers — primarily at the federal level — are caught “in the act” but pay NO penalty for their crimes? Can you name a few?
- James Comey: fired FBI Director. He transferred classified documents to a member of the media for the express purpose of releasing that information to the public — a felony violation of a federal statute. Comey also lied under oath to Congress which is also a criminal violation.
- Hillary Clinton: Ms. Clinton broke multiple laws surrounding her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. First, that server was never tested nor certified by State Department IT personnel to operate for the purpose of sending and receiving emails containing classified information. Subsequent to the FBI’s investigation, Clinton sent numerous emails from that server that the FBI concluded were intercepted and forwarded to a foreign server belonging to an unknown person or persons — all illegal. Her illegal acts did not end there. She or others with her directions destroyed cell phones and other electronic devices that had been used for government business instead of turning those over to authorities.
- President Obama: while President, Obama communicated via emails with then-Secretary of State Clinton while knowing he was doing so via her illegal and unauthorized server. The President used a made-up Gmail email account he opened with no one knowing about. All communications of any kind by or with a U.S. President are by law considered “classified.” His doing so violated several federal statutes.
- Former NSA Adviser Susan Rice: Ms. Rice using her position in the White House authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to release the names of Trump Associates who were caughtup in communications with foreigners. The NSA legally keeps the names of Americans classified in such circumstances. Rice was discovered giving those names to others. She is the one who (through surveilled telephone conversations) released information regarding General Michael Flynn.
When Americans see and hear the obvious illegal acts committed by those in the highest echelons of U.S. government, it is at least disheartening to know (as an example) ALL four of the above politicians that includes a U.S. president are apparently above the Rule of Law!
- How does a former U.S. Senator, then Secretary of State and a candidate for President skate by with thumbing her nose at the Rule of Law and accountability for her illegal acts?
- How does an FBI Director release classified information to the Media and not even be charged for federal law violations?
- How does a National Security Adviser unilaterally and illegally unmask the name of an American general for the express purpose of digging up dirt on a political candidate?
- How does a sitting President of the United States over a period of years transfer and receive classified information to his Secretary of State on a non-classified and non-secured email server that transferred every one of his emails to some unknown entity in an unknown foreign country?
How did each do it? In each case there has been NO ACCOUNTABILITY for their acts.
In this short video, notice the fake outrage and demonization by James Comey of Donald Trump, all the while knowing Comey himself had and was breaking numerous laws:
The Rule of Law, Not a Rule of Lawyers
The rule of written law is one of the six pillars of the American republic.
- One is democracy: We involve the greatest number of people in making government decisions, rather than trust in an elite of “experts.”
- The second is free markets: We involve the greatest number of people in making economic decisions, rather than trust in central planners.
- The third is federalism: We put government decisions closer to the people in order to involve a more diverse set of decision-makers who can experiment with different paths for different communities’ needs.
- The fourth is tradition: We invoke the wisdom of the larger sample of multiple generations by trial and error on matters of common human experience rather than rely on the more limited number of people alive at a particular time.
- The fifth, which ties together democracy, federalism, and tradition, is deliberation: We have a republic, not a pure democracy, so that government decisions are not the process of hasty panics but are openly debated and resolved with support that is deep, geographically wide, and enduring over a series of elections, so that continuing to enforce today’s laws tomorrow has legitimacy.
- And sixth, without which the other five are powerless, we have the stable rule of written law so that the democratically enacted decisions reduced to written law by the representatives of the people with due deliberation are honored until overturned by the same process and not easily discarded by a narrow professional elite.
This is not the system designed by Washington, or Jefferson, or Adams, or Hamilton, or Madison, or Franklin, or any of the other Founding Fathers; it’s the system designed by deliberate compromises among all of them, ratified by the people of their day, and changed repeatedly since by the people of the U.S. when the need for changes became apparent. Taken all together, the American system is designed to follow a path down the middle between the self-absorbed elites in Washington and the self-interests of a sometimes dis-enfranchised group of middle-Americans who occasionally act as a populist mob. It is also designed to steer a middle path between the “ancient” rule of the past and the fickle moods of today. The people remain sovereign and can change any law they like — if they act in large enough numbers over a broad enough area across a sustained period of time.
The PEOPLE as represented by the 535 representatives sent to represent each community, district and state have the Constitutional right to change the law in the manner dictated by the U.S. Constitution. But NO ONE has the right to ignore or unilaterally change enforcement of any duly passed law — PERIOD. Least of all are the members of Government.