Rule of law
November 21, 2015 § 58 Comments
People like to make fun of lawyers, and there are some pretty good lawyer jokes out there, but the humor drops off pretty quickly when people have a serious problem and they want it solved without resorting to fisticuffs or bullets.
“I don’t believe in lawsuits,” is an introduction that every plaintiff lawyer has heard more times than he can count, immediately before, of course the client hires him to sue someone.
My daughter Cassady passed the California bar yesterday on her first try, which is more than I can say; it took me two whacks to get my bar card. There is no public record of how many times it took you to pass, so naturally every lawyer I’ve ever met says they “passed it on the first try” even though the statistics show that about 46% of the people who pass in any given year are repeaters. Lawyer joke: Bar results help attorneys get started lying early.
As a bike injury lawyer I’m immune to such humor unless it’s good, in which case I laugh at it. But as a “lawyer” lawyer, i.e. someone who sees his job as something more than a meatgrinder for insurance transactions, I can tell you that we’re entering a period of history when we need more courts, more judges, and a lot more lawyers.
I’ll point out that the alternative to living in a place that is governed by the rule of law is Russia, Uzbekistan, or Syria. And I’ll point out that most of the founding fathers of the USA were lawyers. But mostly I’ll point out this: Our country faces the single greatest political threat to its existence since the Civil War, a war that was fought, by the way, when one side fired its legal defense team and brought in the gun nuts.
This threat is Donald Trump. Many people believe that he has zero chance of winning. Others think that he has some good ideas. People who are paying attention are profoundly concerned, most especially the “moderate” wing of the GOP, which spent decades screeching in lockstep with the southern GOP about abortion, god, and gun rights, and is now amazed that most of their party can talk of nothing else.
To be brief: Everyone who believes in the rule of law needs to print this in bold black letters and place it on the fridge: DONALD TRUMP WON’T RULE OUT A NATIONAL REGISTRY OF PEOPLE BASED ON ETHNICITY AND/OR RELIGION.
First, let’s look at the policy. Trump, like a lot of Americans, thinks that Syrian refugees pose a security threat to this country. Second, let’s look at the strategy, as delineated by Trump in an online interview with Yahoo News:
Yahoo News asked Trump whether his push for increased surveillance of American Muslims could include warrantless searches. He suggested he would consider a series of drastic measures.
“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.
“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.” Trump has never shied away from saying what he described in this instance as the “frankly unthinkable.”
Balled up in these three paragraphs are the complete destruction of the rule of law. Highlight them if you need to:
- Consider warrantless searches for Muslims.
- Track Muslims in a database or give them ID cards that note their religion.
- Do the “frankly unthinkable.”
If this doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it should at least make you think, because an ID system that registers people by ethnicity and denotes their religion is exactly how Germany approached the “Jewish Problem” in the 1930’s. Leaving aside the fact that such policies would upend more than 200 years of constitutional law, the language of the U.S. Constitution itself, and the very essence of democracy … wait, let’s not leave that behind.
The Republican Party now has as its undisputed frontrunner a person who, if elected, will be required to take an oath to support a constitution that he has already promised to tear into pieces.
Unlike the claim made in NRA propaganda, the first thing dictators go after is never the guns. The first thing they go after are the laws, then the judges, then the lawyers. Only after the rule of law has been hung by the neck until dead can you go after everything else.
Got any more lawyer jokes?
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