Rule by Law Musings

Tuesday, Feb 8, 2022
Jim Sutton

I read an article recently regarding the rule of law by Don Wilkie on the American Thinker website. Other than a typo in the article that confused the meaning of the article, it was intriguing to read. The basic premise was that America should have operated under one rule by law, but in actuality it has varied between 2 and 4 rules of law throughout its history.

The author stated that when our country was founded we had at least four rules of law; one for free men, one for free women, one for slaves and one for Indians. Through various stages in our country these inequities were addressed through such means as a Civil War, Jim Crow laws, the Citizenship Act and the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. The author developed the point that having more than one rule of law governing a country is by definition discrimination for its citizens. The author mentions affirmative action as recently introducing a rule of law that is the very example of this discrimination. The Lady of Liberty statue in the New York harbor is blindfolded to indicate that she weighs the evidence based on the scales of evidence, and not what she sees before her, a true testimony to the ideals America has embraced in its founding documents and what leaders in France saw in the early days of the American experiment of self-governance.

So I got to thinking, what is the meaning of equality under the law if the law does not recognize the equal status of each citizen that has a legal grievance before our Courts? Call it an awakening or eureka moment, but the idea now that a person of one race or gender or other immutable attribute should be treated differently than someone with a different perdurable attribute appeared contradictory. I recognized that an increase in the rules of law in our country for class groups was and is detrimental for an America that should be firmly attached to its roots of equality for its citizens. It was not lost on me that our country through its existence has articulated these principles through its popular and articulate leaders such as Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and many others. That the current administration betrays these principles should be of concern to all who believe in equality under the law.

We continue to see discourse in our country from this administration and those who would tear down these bulwarks to elevate those who were allegedly systematically oppressed. Maybe because political leaders in many cases have placed themselves in a class that has a different set of legal standards than a citizen, some have accepted the idea that having different sets of rules is necessary. Not surprisingly, it is those in authoritative positions to support or degrade our founding principles that are most likely to wander into the abyss of multiplying the rules of law for constituent groups.

My pensive self wonders if those who currently steward the authority to govern realize that in creating disparity between immutable characteristics they actually are weakening the bulwarks that enable our country to work towards equality? My practical self recognizes that an alarming number do not based on their actions and their words. My hopeful self wonders if citizens will awaken to the responsibility they have in electing citizens that understand, desire to, and govern under one set of rules by law for all citizens?