Why The Rule Of Law Matters

Written by Nathan Clark on March 8, 2013

John,_Magna_CartaObservers of the US Supreme Court and various Circuit Court rulings often hear the term “rule of law” applied to the findings and subsequent analysis of these courts’ decisions.  This venerable term derives from the era in which English Common Law was established.  ECL was gradually brought about as a safeguard for the average English subject against the monarchy abusing its power.   In recognizing that individuals have inherent (God-given, irrevocable) rights as fellow humans, it established a higher standard of governance than royal fiat.  It identified and codified these basic rights, also outlining redress of grievances through the legal system if they should be violated.  The Rule of Law becomes a bulwark against abusive government power, including the power of execution.  For centuries, English kings were prone to hanging their political enemies, on a whim.

Our country was established on the rule of law, forcibly and through much bloodshed and sacrifice, because the English monarch at the time refused to recognize our basic rights as English subjects.  Two hundred thirty-seven years later, we find ourselves having to tell another kind of monarch that he doesn’t have the right to a “You die” button for American citizens on our own soil, and possibly beyond our shores.  So much for progress.

At issue is the current Drone debate.  The question before the Senate and the American people is whether the President has any right to assassinate American citizens on US soil who aren’t an imminent threat, without due process of law.  It seems inconceivable that we even have to debate such a blatant violation of the Rule of Law.  Yet Attorney General Eric Holder ran all around the verbal mulberry bush trying to not answer that question directly, even though Sen. Ted Cruz posed it in such simple terms that only a “yes” or “no” reply would have been sufficient.    

This was supposed to be the “most open administration in history”, according to Mr. Obama.   Nancy Pelosi was going to “drain the swamp” in DC of all the slimy denizens lurking in the muck beneath.  Instead of daylight and disclosure, we get obfuscation, dissembling and outright lies. Continuously.    

As the Washington Times quoted from the proceedings, “I think there is going to be a greater effort at the transparency. A number of steps are going to be taken. I expect you will hear the president speaking about this,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning  (this from the least-disclosing administration in memory).’

More lies and obfuscation.  The administration’s contempt for the average American literally drips like venom from Eric Holder’s comments.  Nothing about the word “transparency” applies to the Obama regime.

The Washington Times further addressed the matter by saying  “The administration has only recently acknowledged the drone program and says it is seeking a public debate in order to find common ground on what Americans are ready to accept.”

There are so many things wrong with that statement it’s hard to know where to begin.  First of all, the Obama administration doesn’t give a tinker’s damn what the American public thinks.  He will do as he pleases in his second term – just ask Dmitry Medvedev.

Second, the American populace is significantly conflicted about capital punishment for heinous convicted murderers, but they’re somehow supposed to be okay with the President having an “I Kill You” option for everyday citizens?   With no verifiable legal proceedings?  This is an ultimate example of a contradiction of principles.

Third and most important, the principles enshrined in our Constitution are NOT negotiable nor can they be subjugated to the vagaries of “conventional wisdom” (which is never wise) nor situational ethics.  If nearly everyone says that black is white, that doesn’t make it so.  What’s wrong is wrong, whether it applies to a single person or an entire civilization.  Common law derives from accepted and agreed upon mores that are considered universally true.  The only protection any minority has in our society is what is written and embraced as ‘”inalienable rights’” in the Constitution.  We dare not allow the landmarks of our republic to be moved, altered or obliterated, lest we become permanently and fatally disoriented.

Not being murdered by your government IS NOT a partisan issue.  It is a Constitutional issue, and if this or any other President wants to contend with the written limits of his power contained in our founding document, then the American people must defend the document which protects them.  This power creep is now threatening everyday American citizens’ lives, without recourse or accountability.  It’s everybody’s issue, not just those “damned, grid-locking Republicans” the media whores love to bash ad nauseum.

Rand Paul is to be applauded for his determination to get answers on such a critical issue.  Ted Cruz is also to be applauded for not accepting any of Eric Holder’s mushmouth BS regarding the policy of assassinating American citizens on American soil by the government without due process. 

As for the “open” Obama administration, it shouldn’t take a Senate filibuster to get answers to such a dangerous question.

Image: King John of England signing Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, at Runnymede; source: Britannia.com;
author: held by The Granger Collection, New York; public domain/copyright expired

Nathan Clark is a conservative commentator who resides with his wife in New Hampshire. He is passionate about preserving the vision of our nation's Founders and advancing those tried and true principles deep into America's future. His interests range broadly from flyfishing, cooking and shooting to pro sports, gardening, live music and fine-scale modeling.