Thursday, November 19, 2009

Walter Williams on the Rule of Law

Writing at The Freeman, Walter E. Williams talks about free societies and the importance of the rule of law. You should read the whole thing of course but this part stands out:

"Sir Henry Maine, probably the greatest legal historian, said, “The greatest movement of progressive societies has hitherto been a movement from status to contract.” In nonprogressive societies the rule of law is absent. Laws are not general. They’re applied according to a person’s status or group membership. There’s rule, not by legis, the Latin word for law, but by privilegium, the Latin term for private law. What’s lacking is the principle summarized by English jurist A. V. Dicey: “Every man, whatever be his rank or condition, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals.”


Just about every law that Congress enacts violates all the requirements for the rule of law. How do we determine violations of the rule of law? It’s easy. See if the law applies to particular Americans as opposed to all Americans. See if the law exempts public officials from its application. See if the law is known in advance. See if the law takes action against a person who has taken no aggressive action against another. If you conduct such a test, you will conclude that it is difficult to find many acts of Congress that adhere to the principles of the rule of law."

(h/t Frank. Thanks!)
Share |

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you take a step back and discern the forest from the trees you will see that we've come full circle in America, back to the condition that inspired revolution as declared on 7/4/1776.

The median household income in America is about $50,000. The base income of the citizenry's so called "representatives" in Congress is $174,000. We are no longer governed by our own consent, but ruled by an elite class which taps its subsistence from the fruits of our labor while regulating our every activity and ambition. The elite ruling class makes itself stronger and stronger while their machinations place bonds on the people making them weaker and weaker. Thus, the spirit is “revolution” is once again circulating in the American air.