Peace through victory - the American way.

Monday, January 09, 2006

We're All Beneath The Law

Back when President Bill Clinton was under the legal gun Lanny Davis used to go on television and defend him. He'd argue for fairness by saying something like, "the President is not above the law but he's not below the law either." And people would accept the statement as if he had just said something profound.

Mister Americano could never quite figure it out. Okay, nobody is above the law, that's clear enough. In other words, even Presidents have to obey the law. But to obey the law would require that the law be above the President. So the President would have to be below the law. But if Davis believed that Clinton was not above or below the law then where was he? At the same level of the law? Outside the law? Maybe Davis believed Clinton was like Sly Stallone's Judge Dredd, who famously said, "I am the law!" (Here and here.)

Well, now Judge Samuel Alito has used pretty much the same Davis catch phrase in his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. When promising to administer equal justice fairly to all, the judge said, "No person in this country, no matter how high or powerful, is above the law, and no person in this country is beneath the law." (Here.)

This is just plain wrong. In our country everybody and everything is beneath the law. That's what it means to live in a country that exists under the rule of law. What Davis and Alito mean to say is that for equal justice to be administered fairly nobody should be outside the law. (Well, maybe UN and other diplomats living here are outside the law with that annoying diplomatic immunity they have. "What do you mean I can't park my limo here? I work for the UN. I don't have to obey your puny laws.")

It's merely a semantic point, perhaps, but words matter.




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