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The Rule of, and Equality Before, the Law

By January 23, 2024Commentary

I have thought about this issue for a long, long time, in its various dimensions, and been meaning to write a series of posts on the topic, which I shall now commence.  I recall early in my law school career, during one of my rare classroom attendances, the constitutional law professor saying that over the centuries the concept of law and legal obligations and rights had moved from one based on a person’s status–noble versus peasant, for example–to one based on constitutional and contractual rights and obligations.  I thought that had a fair amount of accuracy in it.

And it has repeatedly been observed by foreign writers that the unique strength of the United States, and most Western democracies, was its firm embrace of the rule of law.  In the United States today, the rule of law and equality before the law is under fierce assault by the pro(re)gressive crowd; an assault which has already been largely successful and which has been the main contributor to the ongoing decline of civil society, civil liberties and freedom that we are experiencing.

The rule of law has multiple concepts encompassed within its scope.  A prime associated concept is equality before the law–that all persons subject to a set of laws shall have those laws applied equally to them.  Others include how the laws that govern a society are determined, how those laws are applied and how they are enforced.  Each of these is essential to the maximal functioning of a free society.  It was revolt against the arbitrary creation, application and enforcement of the laws that led to the establishment of the United States and to democratic forms of governance in most advanced countries.

In succeeding posts I will review each of these important aspects of the rule of law and identify how they are being undermined and replaced by a return to status as a guide for rule-maing, application and enforcement, particularly status in regard to race, sex, religion and most importantly, political views.  And I will suggest guardrails that must be enacted to ensure that the laws are created, applied and enforced neutrally and equally to all those subject to those laws.

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  • John Oh says:

    Interesting and I look forward to more. Also, you might consider addressing the structural deficiency of the legal system — the prohibitive expense and the incredible time demands of even small matters. It often stacks the deck against working class people.

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