nin137

Nick's Journal
2009-11-20 23:23:40 (UTC)

The Rule of Law

i like to think that there are two variations to the rule of
law. there is the usual interpretation, which i would like
to think of as the liberal (ideological) view. that being:
every person gets their day in court. whether you're a
homeless welfare mother with 20 kids or a top ceo with all
the power in the world, you are the same in the eyes of the
law. there is no color, creed, sexual orientation, or any
sort of preference or discrimination in the eyes of the law
when a case is brought before it. all that a court can see
is the legal aspect of a person. almost like plato's cave:
only the shadows of legal matters are seen, projected by
whatever entity it may come from.

ironically enough, the ideal liberal justice, sottomayor, is
an abomination to this liberal notion. to her there are
very real differences in people who come before the court
(and even more so, those who sit behind the bar!). that's
why i can't stand her, she's an affront to the ideological
view of the rule of law, she completely undermines what most
liberals hold so dearly. now, of course judges are just
humans and all of them have their biases (in fact a whole
school of thought was built around this "realist" notion of
judges), but when one judge so flagrantly touts her
preferences then you can only expect a very narrow,
"targeted" approach to her judicial manner. not the "one
size fits all" that the rule of law is meant to uphold.

the second aspect of the rule of law that i like to think of
as the conservative (righteousness) view concerns the
immutability of the law. now of course the law isn't truly
immutable, in fact, our case law system is built on the
premise that small changes in the law are made as it
"evolves". law does change, and i'd like to think mostly
for the better. it is not so much that the law itself
doesn't change but the fact that YOU can't change the law.

translated: no matter who you are, if you commit a crime the
law will get you. the righteous arm of the law will haul
you into court, lay down its verdict and be done with you.
100 out of 100 times if you steal a loaf of bread you will
get sentenced. whether you are a homeless welfare mother of
20 or a top ceo with all the power in the world. in reality
of course, this doesn't always happen. but it happens
enough so that the faith in our legal system is upheld.

i think the immutability of the law in its enforcement and
judgment is really the backbone of our legal system, because
that is all that we have in ensuring the populace that our
legal system is in fact fair and righteous. but of course
it's not enough for people to know that the law will "follow
through with its edicts" they must also feel that they are
rightfully protected under it.

this is why there always has to be equality in civil rights
(i'm looking at your prop 8!). no one group of people
should be made to feel that they are outside the law. this
of course is what leads to the abhorrent violence in the
drug zones. those drug dealers know that they can't look to
the law and therefore take it into their own hands to
devastating consequences.

for all its shortcomings (sottomayor and prop 8) the legal
system adheres to the rule of law (in both views) quite
admirably. i like to think of our legal system as a
beautiful, majestic dragon, constantly breathing the
righteous breath of fire while spreading its wings to cover
all those who wish to turn to it for safety.