• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

We are inching along, but not as quickly as we (or you) would like. If you have already donated, thank you so much. If you haven’t had a chance, consider skipping the coffee this week and drop CounterPunch $5 or more. We provide our content for free, but it costs us a lot to do so. Every dollar counts.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Of Men, Not Law: to Make America Hate Again

Photo by Eneas De Troya | CC BY 2.0

Aristotle said the rule of law is better than the rule of men. Having law above us guides us – away from our corrupt destructive impulses, enabling greater peace, liberty, prosperity and security. The current head of the U.S. has wrought havoc on rule of law norms by inciting hate and lawlessness and sowing chaos – the antithesis of law and order. His hasty pardon of a cruel racist sheriff post-Charlottesville is simply the latest action taken to undermine the judiciary and divide people.

45* has raged particularly against the judiciary and the press – the two institutions vital to checking tyranny. The judiciary is the branch of government most independent of politics, and thus best able to safeguard constitutional values. Federal judges ruled Sheriff Arpaio’s indiscriminate dragnet detention of peoples in violation of the 4th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. When he persisted with racial profiling of Latinos he was in held in contempt of direct court orders.

To pardon a public official who refuses to obey the law (especially a direct court order) is to give the finger to the judiciary, and thus our constitutional order. It encourages further lawlessness. It unleashes bias, hate, vigilantism, mob rule. And it hits where the rubber meets the street. Most people encounter law via policing, so when racist cops are unmoored then law is seen as a threat, not a protector. There is a circular logic to the fear and hate-mongering of 45* which need be recognized and thwarted. The writing was clearly on the wall.

Citizen Trump made his entry into public policy by calling on New York to re-implement the death penalty in order to execute young black men wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. And old story seized upon by this opportunist hater to raise his profile. That he still called for the execution of the Central Park Five after they were exonerated should have disqualified him from holding office in any reasonable society. Yet today he is the inciter-in-chief of the lynch mob, hailing the unrepentant racist former Sheriff as a “patriot” who was treated “unbelievable unfairly” by the courts. An emboldened Arpaio then echoed 45*’s slander of federal judges, making unsubstantiated claims of Judge Susan Bolton’s (who issued the contempt order) bias.

45* has brought Jersey-style governance to the capital, where he employs the tactics of Tony Soprano and Rupert Murdoch to hold sway over others. Payback against the Arizona Senators who had sought to assert independence from the psycho-in-chief was the most likely impetus for the Arpaio pardon. As well, he was sending a message to others (e.g., those Special Prosecutor Mueller will question), as mobsters do. Loyalty and betrayal – the be-all end-all of mobsters. Dismantling the administrative state creates a void for racketeering.

The reaction must be a mass mobilization to resist this dictatorial agenda. Counting on our existing political parties is foolish; looking to the Supreme Court is a wishful prayer. Affected communities are at the vanguard of the resistance. Using the courts in the battle against tyranny is a vital tactic, as is protest by putting bodies in the streets, even in the face of the resumption of the military equipment transfer to police program and the increasing criminalization of dissent.

We now know that 45* never consulted the Department of Justice before issuing the Pardon, and that he has snubbed and undermined its mission of equal justice under law since taking power. Thankfully, the DOJ and federal judges have not succumbed to his mobster tactics. The judiciary should be receptive to petitions from people hurt by the unlawful actions of the current U.S. administration – that is all of us.

More articles by:

William A. Cohn, professor of jurisprudence at New York University and lecturer on law, ethics and critical thinking at the University of New York in Prague, is the author of Led Astray: Legal and Moral Blowback from the Global War on Terror (Routledge, 2017).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 22, 2019
Gary Leupp
The Kurds as U.S. Sacrificial Lambs
Robert Fisk
Trump and the Retreat of the American Empire
John Feffer
Trump’s Endless Wars
Marshall Auerback
Will the GOP Become the Party of Blue-Collar Conservatism?
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Trump’s Fake Withdrawal From Endless War
Dean Baker
Trump Declares Victory in China Trade War
Patrick Bond
Bretton Woods Institutions’ Neoliberal Over-Reach Leaves Global Governance in the Gutter
Robert Hunziker
XR Co-Founder Discusses Climate Emergency
John W. Whitehead
Terrorized, Traumatized and Killed: The Police State’s Deadly Toll on America’s Children
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World Partnership for Ecopolitical Health and Security
Binoy Kampmark
The Decent Protester: a Down Under Creation
Frances Madeson
Pro-Democracy Movement in Haiti Swells Despite Police Violence
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Challenges Logging and Burning Project in Methow Valley
Chelli Stanley
Change the Nation You Live In
Elliot Sperber
Humane War 
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail