When the president rules by fiat, touting the dual powers of his pen and his phone, and the Supreme Court commandeers legislative power, political rule of law is obviously just a token on which feckless politicians run, paying lip service because it buoys political efficacy and turns out the vote.
But lost in the lamentations of the tarnishing of the Founders’ glorious vision is an equally pernicious perversion, that which has turned the criminal justice system into one where rule of law still exists, but as a caste system.
There is simply no way Hillary Clinton was unaware of the classification of materials she was emailing. The government’s classification system goes well beyond a simple email tagline bookmarking the sensitive nature of information. It is, after all, the federal government, so a complicated system of training and notation exists.
Yet, after months of dodging questions about her private email server, a clear violation of the Federal Records Act, and what sensitive information passed through it, federal agents have not raided Clinton’s home or the business that setup her home-brew server. Instead, Clinton directed David Kendall, her lawyer to turn over thumb drives containing copies of her emails- not the actual server- to the FBI. And the Justice Department has stated their willingness to allow Kendall to retain possession of the server.
At the same time government officials and journalists have been working around Clinton, Naval officer Kristian Saucier who foolishly took a selfie in front of a sonar screen on a submarine and then even more foolishly tried to destroy any record of it was indicted on espionage charges by the Justice Department and faces 20 years in prison.
The penalty for his actions, which are no more heinous than a lack of foresight, are harsh but just. Their is no excuse for negligence where military secrets are concerned. However, why is he being held accountable before the law while Clinton is kowtowed to?
The precedent for civil liberties and ides like blind justice is found in the Magna Carta. For the first time in history, accountability before the law became about more than the wrath of a slighted king. Broader, less mercurial powers became arbiter. However, this medieval concept of legal egalitarianism was still relative, enmeshed in the rigid class system of feudalism. Amercements, for instance, were handled differently depending upon whether one was a villein, a free man, a merchant, a baron or a member of the clergy.
This concept of legal egalitarianism is anathema to the American judicial system. Or, at least it used to be. Throughout the tenure of the Obama administration, countless officials- Eric Holder, Lois Lerner, John Koskinen, etc.- have been implicated in scandals that, if they were given credence and not dismissed as partisan smears, would certainly demand criminal charges.
At the same time, stories of federal raids of private residences and businesses that run afoul of obscure laws or that seem to be trumped up to force compliance have risen. And there seems to be little willingness in the media to even look into whether abuse has occurred, let alone a drumming up of anger and demand for just reparations.
It’s hard to paint this as anything other than an introduction of classism in American law. So, is rule of law dead? Technically not, as average citizens and connected media and political hegemons are held to the same standard. Unfortunately, that standard just happens to have a different scale depending on one’s social status.