Governor DeSantis, the Raid on Trump, and the Rule of Law—Part II

Rob Natelson

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.

 

Rob Natelson

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Robert G. Natelson, a former constitutional law professor, is senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at the Independence Institute in Denver.

Epstein Island Is the Perfect Representation of the Two-Tiered Justice SystemBy J.D. Rucker • Aug. 2, 2022

Imagine if an Average Joe Citizen had evidence against him that he had sex with underage girls. You don’t have to imagine it, actually, because we see it in the news on a regular basis. Average Joe Pedophile would almost certainly be arrested, charged, tried, convicted, and jailed.

Now, imagine if leftists entered the Capitol Building without authorization. You don’t have to imagine it, actually, because that’s exactly what happened in June when the “Colbert 9 Insurrectionists” did it. And of course, these leftists were released after a short time being under arrest with no further repercussions.

The two tiers are easily definable. Anyone who is conservative, isn’t rich, and doesn’t check off any of the intersectionality boxes gets hit by the Justice Department as well as most city and state prosecutors with the full force of the law. Anyone who is leftist, rich, or checks off any of the intersectionality boxes gets light treatment. And no two cases make this more apparent than comparing the various heinous crimes committed on Epstein Island to the minor nuisances committed by January 6 mostly peaceful protesters.

Justice has her eyes wide open in the United States of America. she picks and chooses those to prosecute. Truth has fallen in the street and is trampled, we must restore the rule of law or we will lose this country in the next few years. rh

California Bill AB-2223

California bill will legalize infanticide. Killing babies up to 28 days old! No one in their right mind should support us. This bill promotes murder!

We have completely lost our collective minds. No rule of law, and an absolutely depraved mind to even suggest such an act. America is lost.

The American Spirit

We have lost the true meaning of being an American.  Americans are a true breed of people, not in birthright, but in the indelible spirit of freedom and the expectancy of a better life and world to come.  Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not a catch phrase, but a true and noble idea that all true Americans, not only long for, but pursue to their dying breath.  The spirit of can do, a spirit of hope and expectancy is not found in great measure today, rather a sense of doom,  gloom and failure prevails among our society.  Utopia will not be reached, but a good, moral and noble country is well within reach.

What is the American spirit?  As I reach the soon to be twilight of my existence on this Earth I find I think more of what was, rather than what could be. I fear in our haste to rush toward a more European existence we have completely lost what made us who we are.  Rugged individualism and not compromise is what Americans do.  We desire what is noble and fair.  It doesn’t take a roundtable of intelligentsia expounding hot air to know the truth, it is inbreed within us.  It is not a poll to determine our position or a fear of what one might say, it is knowing and doing what is the right.

You see my friends we are the last great hope for mankind, if we fail in this 244 year experiment into freedom, the entire world will follow us to destruction and a new fearfully prophesied world ruling power will soon come upon the scene.  I see the future hanging in the balance.  At times tears flow and I long for the old America.  She was not perfect, but she was free.  We faced our troubled demons head on, taking years to fix, but we fixed them. We aren’t perfect, but we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. Rule of law and fair play, which is missing today, was a cornerstone we stood on. Equal protection under the law and equality of rights we envisioned for all.  Lady Justice has taken off her blindfolds.  As the Bible declares in Isaiah 59, “Justice is turned back and truth falls in the street”.

We are the only nation on the face of the earth with a saying such as this, the American Dream.  To borrow an eloquent title from a wonderful movie that typifies who we were and who we should attempt to become again to save this republic.  I ask the question, do we have The Right Stuff?  

A Supreme Decision

This election has become even more important than ever before. Regardless of whether a justice to the Supreme Court is confirmed before the election or not, both scenarios could bring more violence and destruction.

Our Constitution and the extent of governmental control is at stake. Hell will break forth in the coming weeks, but we must stand firm. Prayer before the fact is a weapon to use against the agitators. The battle is the Lord’s. Our weapon is prayer. Become the remnant that sees ahead and prays ahead.

We must pray and vote as if our 244 year experiment in freedom and equality is on the line. It is! Our very existence as we know it depends on what we do in the next few weeks.

Seattle Mayor Describes ‘CHAZ’ As A ‘Block Party’, Not ‘An Armed Takeover’

For the life of me I can’t understand what people are thinking.  Wish I  could be mayor of Seattle for a day.  No more occupation.  These people are enemies of the state.

In an interview Thursday night with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan described blocks of Seattle’s streets that have been designated by Antifa the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” as a “block party,” rather than “an armed takeover.” The Seattle police and local government surrendered the area to Antifa anarchists Wednesday, leading to chaos.    JENNIE TAER.