Above the Law
“All animals are equal, but some but some are more equal than others.”
—-A proclamation by the pigs who control the government in the novel Animal Farm , by George Orwell.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” –
—Preamble to the Constitution
“Law should govern.”—--Aristotle
The phrase was proposed by the building’s architects, and then approved by judges of the Court in 1932. It is based upon Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence, and has historical antecedents dating back to ancient Greece.
Here is Pericles discussing “equal justice” according to the English translation by Richard Crawley in 1874:
Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighbouring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favours the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition.
The English translation by Benjamin Jowett in 1881 likewise had Pericles saying: “the law secures equal justice to all alike in their private disputes”. And, the English translation by Rex Warner in 1954 had Pericles saying: “there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes”.
As quoted above, Pericles said that a person’s wealth or prominence should not influence his eligibility for public employment or affect the justice he receives. Similarly, Chief Justice Hughes defended the inscription “equal justice under law” by referring to the judicial oath of office, which requires judges to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich”. Decades later, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall made a similar point: “The principles which would have governed with $10,000 at stake should also govern when thousands have become billions. That is the essence of equal justice under law.”
The United States of America is ostensibly an Egalitarian Constitutional Democracy predicated on the notion that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” means that the people are the source of the law by which they are governed…
In short, the people are the law…
In an Egalitarian Constutional Democracy, there can be no differentiation amongst the people governed by the rule of laws of their own making…
If we truly believe that, as Pericles said, “…A person’s wealth or prominence should not influence his eligibility for public employment or affect the justice he receives.”, the Orwellian notion that: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”, should not contain a scintilla of veracity or credibility.
But., it does…
We live in a world of:
1st class seating,
celebrity status, etc…
There’s enough preferential and deferential treatment in our social environment to support the notion that we live in a highly stratified, and somewhat rigid, caste oriented society.
Trump, his family, and his ilk (the 1%) live above the remainder of society in large part because we put them there.
The problem with this is the people who believe that they are “more equal than others” believe that they not only live above the bulk of the population, but they live above the conventions and institutions that govern all aspects of public and private interaction.
Or, to put it succinctly, they believe that they live above the law.
I believe that we should examine the matrix of societal norms and mores that have created a class of people who have come to believe that they have risen above the law because they have risen above the needs and concerns that occupy 99% of the population…
If we are to move forward as an Egalitarian Constitutional Democracy, we must seek ways to ensure that we prevent the idea that “some are more equal than others” doesn’t become permanently fixed in our understanding and interpretation of the concept of the rule of law.
We must find ways to ensure that the rule of law includes the precept that, in our society and system, no one is above the law…
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