Governor DeSantis, the Raid on Trump, and the Rule of Law—Part II
In this Part II of my two-part series on the rule of law, I was going to explain how the rule of law is declining in America. But Monday’s massive FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s residence for alleged misuse of government documents—after the FBI gave Hillary Clinton a pass for a similar offense—has made my case for me.
In Part I, I summarized an Aug. 4 executive order (pdf) issued by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. It suspended from office one Andrew Warren, a “woke” prosecutor who refused to enforce certain laws with which he disagreed.
I explained that DeSantis (or his staff) crafted his order in a way that forestalled any credible line of attack from the liberal-propaganda media. I added that the order may help reverse a current drop in respect for the rule of law.
In this Part II, I’ll explain what the rule of law is, why it’s important, and provide further evidence—if any is necessary—of how it has deteriorated.
What is the Rule of Law and Why is it Important?
Compliance with the rule of law means that (1) legal standards are clear, enforced, and reasonably stable, (2) officials comply with and enforce those standards, and (3) the judicial system is impartial, fair, and reasonably efficient. When the rule of law is respected, a citizen can usually predict the consequences of following, or violating, legal standards.
Without the rule of law, democratic self-governance is impossible. When officials violate, or refuse to enforce, measures adopted by the people and the people’s representatives, those officials undermine democracy. That’s why Gov. DeSantis accused Warren of “usurping the province of the Florida Legislature.”
Without the rule of law, economic prosperity is also impossible. Legal standards must be clear and predictable before investors will risk capital and before entrepreneurs commit their time and creativity. When rules are fuzzy, unevenly enforced, or subject to random change, investors and entrepreneurs shy away.
In the years immediately before adoption of the U.S. Constitution, demagogic politicians had weakened the rule of law in some states. One reason the Founders adopted the Constitution was to shore up the rule of law. In No. 44 of “The Federalist,” James Madison wrote:
“The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs [i.e., opportunities for unfair gain] in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less informed part of the community. They have seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the first link of a long chain of repetitions, every subsequent interference being naturally produced by the effects of the preceding. They very rightly infer, therefore, that some thorough reform is wanting, which will banish speculations on public measures, inspire a general prudence and industry, and give a regular course to the business of society.”
The New Decline in the Rule of Law
The disparity of official treatment of Trump and Clinton is but a vignette in a much wider mural. A 2021 international survey shows that the United States has dropped to 27th place among all nations in its respect for the rule of law (pdf). Another survey observes that in the United States, “the judicial appointments process has become increasingly politicized. A troubling and growing tendency of federal governance by the unaccountable administrative state empowered by presidential decrees has undermined public confidence in the rule of law. Public perceptions of corruption and distrust of institutions have been rising in recent years.”
Our decline toward third-world status began in earnest during the presidency of Barack Obama (2009–2017). His administration was marred by a frenzy of opaque economic regulations; raw favoritism for some business interests over others; politicization of law enforcement; and massive, inscrutable statutes of questionable constitutionality. Among those statutes were the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law.
Moreover, Obama repeatedly issued executive orders punching holes in federal statutes addressing drugs, immigration, and health care. As noted in Part I, this conduct violates a core principle of Anglo-American constitutionalism.
As the cases of Trump, Clinton, and Andrew Warren all illustrate, another aspect of the decline has been the biasing of the law enforcement process. In 2012, the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act—reaffirming traditional one man/one woman marriage—was pending before the Supreme Court. Attorneys general are obligated to defend the laws enacted by their legislatures, but Eric Holder, Obama’s attorney general, refused to do so. In fact, he joined the opposition.
Other attorneys general and prosecutors followed Holder’s sordid example. Another miscreant was Roy Cooper, then attorney general of North Carolina, who refused to defend his state constitution’s “one man/one woman” rule. This may well have contributed to the 2015 Supreme Court decision, which on markedly weak reasoning, narrowly struck down traditional marriage rules such as North Carolina’s (pdf).
Prosecutors responded to the highly destructive Black Lives Matter/Antifa rioters with indulgence, but savagely to the less-destructive Capitol Hill riot. While prosecutors have been unrelenting in their pursuit of Trump associates, they showed no interest in enforcing federal law against leftist protesters harassing Republican-appointed (and only Republican-appointed) Supreme Court justices (pdf).
Congress has also participated in the trend: As I have documented in other essays, the Senate’s conduct of the Trump impeachment trials and the House’s conduct of its Jan. 6 hearings disregarded basic standards of fairness and due process.
While most of the responsibility for the breakdown in the rule of law is chargeable to the left, the record of the Trump administration was not spotless either. In my previous essay, I mentioned the case of the legally dubious transfer of military funds to the construction of the border wall. Another illustration was the mass intrusion, during the COVID-19 pandemic, of the federal government into public health law—a subject the Constitution clearly assigns to the states.
Gov. DeSantis’s Contribution
As a political issue, the rule of law often has less traction than some other issues. Some voters find it hard to appreciate that people they disagree with are entitled to fair and impartial treatment. Moreover, once a faction obtains power, it’s tempted to disregard legal standards when striking back at opponents. This is particularly true if those opponents previously violated the rule of law to attack the now-triumphant faction. This cycle of strike and counter-strike is, indeed, a vicious one.
In such circumstances, one mark of the leader-statesman (as opposed to the typical politician) is that he makes an effort to educate the public on crucial issues it might not otherwise understand.
DeSantis has just helped educate us on the rule of law. For that he deserves our gratitude.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Robert G. Natelson, a former constitutional law professor, is senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at the Independence Institute in Denver.
We are living in desperate times. America is facing the very real prospect of a move towards socialism and a move toward far more governmental control in the year 2021. I bellowed and screamed at the top of my lungs how important this election was this year, and many people were asleep, especially many in the church. I see a very chaotic year regardless of who is finally determined to have won the election. Our desperationin America is enhanced by the fact that we are a nation that is split almost 50-50 down the middle about which direction we are to go. People I know have voted for Biden and will not hear of the fact that he is going to lead us towards socialism. In fact their only reason for voting for Biden was a vote against Donald Trump. They think Donald Trump is the antichrist and that he will destroy America. Regardless of who is finally determined to have won the election, we are in for perilous and destructive times. If Trump wins the riots ensue. If Biden wins we face lockdowns and mandated mask and vaccines.
Our division in America is enhanced by the fact that we are a nation that is split almost 50-50 down the middle about which direction we are to go. My fear is with the deep state entrenched in D.C., even if Trump wins we will be headed for destruction. We do not have but a handful In Congress who truly have the best for America in their heart and mind. Most are nothing more than hirelings waiting on the next bribe.
A G Barr
Three strikes you’re out Mr. Barr. You sir are part of the deep state, appointed by Bush. He failed us on Obamagate, Biden-Burisma and now in the most important case of election voter fraud. His comments were filled with elitist doublespeak and a condescending attitude. Good riddance.
Dr. Eric Coomer Dominion voting systems.
DOJ: Armed agents could be sent to ballot-counting locations
The Department of Justice sent a memo to prosecutors Wednesday saying it could send armed agents to ballot-counting locations to investigate potential voter fraud, The New York Times reported.
Source: DOJ: Armed agents could be sent to ballot-counting locations
Ukrainian flagged as intel danger to Trump had extensive contact with Obama officials, memos show
Obama State Department considered Konstantin Kilimnik a ‘sensitive source,’ Senate report now identifies him as Russian intel officer.
In December 2015, the Obama State Department and its ambassador in Kiev were upset over a negative story about then-Vice President Joe Biden ahead of his visit to Ukraine. So a U.S. embassy official turned to a “sensitive source” for help.
“Thank you very much for looking into this and very sorry to ask,” U.S. embassy official Alexander “Sasha” Kasanof wrote businessman Konstantin Kilimnik in a Dec. 6, 2015 email obtained by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators and reviewed by Just the News. “Ambassador very unhappy about the article, though agree it stinks to me to (sic) of people we know very well.”
A few lines later, Kasanof’s email offered Kilimnik some valuable inside skinny about the Obama administration’s assessment of a sensitive meeting between indicted fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Dmitri Firtash’s associate Yuriy Boyko and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. “I thought Boyko did quite well, in fact,” Kasanof wrote. “Don’t know that he convinced Nuland on everything (incl. DF intentions), but his performance was much less Soviet and better than I thought would be. So job well done!”
Joe Biden’s Ukraine Connection
Petition to ‘Declare George Soros a Terrorist & Seize All His Assets’ Goes Viral
A White House petition to declare far-left billionaire George Soros a “terrorist” and seize all of his assets has gone viral.
The “We the People” petition, hosted on the official White House website, calls for Soros’ organizations’ assets to be seized by the US Government under RICO law.
After being shared far and wide across social media, the campaign has amassed a staggering 216,158 (at time of press) signatures from patriots.
The petition calls on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “immediately declare George Soros and all of his organizations and staff members to be domestic terrorists.”
It also demands that the DOJ has “all of his personal an organizational wealth and assets seized under Civil Asset Forfeiture law.”
At the time of publishing this article, the petition has amassed almost a quarter of a million signatures from patriotic citizens – far exceeding the minimum of 100,000 required to get an official response from Congress. By: Jay Greenberg
Interesting that finally people are beginning to wake up to Soros.
CIA Filed Crimes Report in Russia Leak Case: O’Brien
A crimes report was filed by the CIA with the Department of Justice over a leak, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said July 1.
Raw intelligence that suggested the Russians might be offering bounties to kill U.S. soldiers was leaked to The New York Times and other outlets.
Data from the DOJ shows the number of classified leaks surged since President Donald Trump took office, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said this week, from 39 per year on average to 104 on average.
“We have seen targeted leaks of classified information against this president, and it is irresponsible: phone calls with foreign leaders, meetings with government officials, and now reports of alleged intelligence. Make no mistake: This damages our ability, as a nation, to collect intelligence,” she said.
The leak makes difficult to verify or debunk the raw intelligence regarding Russia, O’Brien told reporters outside the White House on July 1.
“Some leaker took it upon themselves in an effort to attack the president, or to maybe promote some policy agenda, to leak allegations that now make it almost impossible for us to find out what happened,” O’Brien said. Zachary Stieber — Epoch Times.