Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rule of Law

Dear Madame L,

I'm so confused, with people on the Right and Left ends of American politics accusing each other of breaking the law and depriving us of our rights. And I'm sick of all the shouting and incivility I'm seeing all around me.

What can I do about it?



Dear Friend,

Madame L has also been struggling lately with how to find out the truth about who is doing what to whom, and with what financial backing; and why incivility, clownishness, greed, and corruption seem to be pushing their way to the forefront of politics. 

Your question, and the issues, are huge, and a quick Internet search won't always lead to good answers, as you know.

However, Madame L has recently read a review of a book titled "The Rule of Law," by Tom Bingham, which helped her think about whether America remains true to the ideals which have in the past defined us. Tom Paine wrote that in America, law is king, meaning the law as written and practiced is fair, impartial, and reflects actual justice. 

So, when you, Dear Reader, look at the following list of axioms that would ensure that law is king, you may ask yourself if these apply in America now:

1. Laws must be clear, predictable and public.

2. As far as possible, laws, not an executive’s discretion, should govern.

3. Laws must apply equally.

4. Laws must protect fundamental human rights, the rights of living people.

5. The cost to use the law, to defend our rights, must be reasonable, with public aid provided to make it so.

6. Public officials have a duty to act in good faith, to use restraint, to operate within the recognized limits of their powers.

7. Procedures in court must be open and fair. They must bind the state in the same way they bind those in conflict with it.

8. Binding law inherently includes international treaties and customary laws.

If it appears to you that even one of these principles is not being practiced now, you may want to vote in such a way as to place in office leaders who will put these into practice. You may even want to campaign for such candidates.

Good luck, and may God bless America,

Madame L

1 comment:

Ellen said...

I think we've gotten a little bit off track. My daughter has recently moved to a different state, and she had an eye appointment to get fitted for new glasses. When the technicians at the optometrist office learned that she uses contact lenses, they asked her if she didn't need to be fitted for contacts, too. She assured them that she has plenty of contact lenses since her last exam two years ago. Two years ago?! they said. Apparently it is a law in this state of the union that you cannot buy more contact lenses than a one-year supply, thus requiring you to have an annual eye exam. Who made that law?! I don't believe it fits those qualifications that you listed.