The rule of law has become an infinitely elastic concept in America. Some receive harsh punishments for picayune crimes, while others receive no punishment for substantial crimes. From James George Jatras at strategic-culture.org:
Several years ago the Commonwealth of Virginia enacted a law restricting firearms purchases to one per month. This was intended to discourage smuggling of weapons to urban areas outside Virginia with tight gun control laws and (unsurprisingly) high homicide rates. The law didn’t seem to do much good and in a rare outbreak of common sense was later repealed, though there’s recent misguided talk from Attorney General Mark Herring of reviving it.
During its short period in force, the prohibition spawned a popular saying in the Old Dominion: “Buy one gun a month – it’s the law!”
A similar attitude may be appropriate in light of an estimate that due to vague statutes and the proliferation of federal regulations – which have the force of law – we wake up in the morning, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go to sleep unaware we may have committed several federal crimes in the course of the day. The number varies but the average number of crimes per American seems to be about three.
The more important point is that every one of us is probably guilty of something. “There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,” retired Louisiana State University law professor John Baker told the Wall Street Journal in July 2011. “That is not an exaggeration.”
- This means that if they want you, they can get you.
- That in turn means that who gets charged, prosecuted, and jailed is a matter of the relevant officials’ discretion.
- And that in turn means that discretion can and will be politicized.
Like the boychiks used to say in the good ol’ NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs; Народный комиссариат внутренних дел): “Give Us the Man, and We Will Make the Case.” (I guess nowadays, we should say “person.”)
Let’s stipulate that the true Rechtsstaat, where justice is administered in a politically neutral manner is few and far between in human history. The norm is politicized justice where holders of power – in an elective system, the winners – use the justice system to harass and terrorize the losers.
To continue reading: Have You Committed Your Three Felonies Today?