Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Rule of Law

Basic definition of the rule of law: the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.

From the World Justice Project: What is the Rule of Law?

Derived from internationally accepted standards, the World Justice Project’s definition of the rule of law is a system in which the following four universal principles are upheld:

  1. The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law.
  2. The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights.
  3. The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.
  4. Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
"How many of you worry that on January 20th when the new president is supposed to take over, that President Obama won't leave office?"

Not a student raised his or her hand, because they understand the Rule of Law that would keep President Obama from proclaiming himself president in perpetuity.

"How many of you believe you could be arrested if falsely accused?"

Everyone realizes this is a possibility and raises their hand.

"Would you be shot within two hours without a trial?"

"No," is the strong consensus.

"How many of you believe you would receive a fair trial?"

Again, a unanimous consensus. We have faith in our country, in our rights, and that we abide by the Rule of Law.

Unfortunately, there are exceptions to the Rule of Law and they are often tragic.

Emmet Till, a young black man who was murdered for supposedly flirting with a white woman, was never subject to the Rule of Law. His body was found in a river and the jury found the defendants "not guilty," when the evidence seemed sufficient to be found "guilty."

Unfortunately, the Rule of Law is still challenged today and the cases in question will set precedents that determine whether or not the Rule of Law will remain a concrete foundation of the United States.

The transgender-bathroom controversy in North Carolina is about so much more than giving rights to transgender people. I believe everyone wants life to be equal and good for transgender people. No one wants discrimination anymore--we've had enough of that to last millennia. The issue comes down to Rule of Law.

The Charlotte City Council ruled that students needed to use the restroom that matched their gender at birth. Even if a young man was born as a young man, but identified as a woman, the city council deemed he still had to use the male restroom.

The United States Department of Education sent a letter to all schools mandating that students should use bathrooms according to their current gender identity regardless of birth and they used Title IX of the 1972 education amendment that prohibits sex discrimination in educational settings funded by the federal government. At the time, sex discrimination was determined either male or female.

The Rule of Law requires that the original law as set forth in 1972 be followed to exactness. There is power in this, and there is a reason laws are changed and amended to fit the changing times. However, this law was mandated by, according to our guest attorney, "by a low level bureaucrat in the US Education Department." What right does he or she have to change law?

Two countries come to mind where the Rule of Law is ignored. Russia. A beautiful constitution they have, that guarantees rights and freedoms to all. Ha!

Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro was appointed by his predecessor Hugo Chavez, who was elected democratically, but once he took power, he did what he wanted. He refused to be regulated by Rule of Law. Have you seen the hardships of Venezuela recently? Did you wonder how a nation once rich and prosperous from oil revenue could have starving people who were recently told to grow their own food? Did you know the richest citizen of Venezuela after Chavez died? His daughter. She inherited 600 billion.

The news we read and hear simplifies the issue to those who are pro-transgender and those who are against transgender people, and among the sheep may be a wolf. But this is perhaps bigger than the right to use a bathroom of choice. It is about who has the right to change laws in our country. Do we want that power to be so arbitrary?