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).

March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
Dean Baker
In Praise of Budget Deficits
Howard Lisnoff
Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence
John W. Whitehead
Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America
Priti Gulati Cox
“Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story
Missy Comley Beattie
On Our Knees
Mike Garrity – Carole King
A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat
Robert Fantina
The Media-Created Front Runners
Tom Clifford
Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F
Ron Jacobs
All the Livelong Day      
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail