Without the Rule of Law, Our Rights Are Threatened

One of the fundamental tenets of modern western civilization is the rule of law. When a nation has the “rule of law,” all citizens are bound by the same rules; there are no exceptions, no special treatment for the wealthy, powerful or well-connected.

The rule of law was a critical part of the republican form of government created by our Founding Fathers. John Adams, our second president, described it as “a government of laws and not of men.” But changes are afoot that are undermining the rule of law, and with it, the stability of the nation itself.

The checks and balances in the American system of government have often thwarted Democrats’ ability to legislatively enact the changes they want to the laws. They are compensating by taking power within the executive branch.

In the case of the presidency, this has been a two-pronged strategy.

The first prong is using “executive action” to create by presidential fiat “laws” that have not been passed by Congress. In President Joe Biden’s first 100 days alone, he issued more executive actions than predecessors Donald Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush combined. As of this week, Biden has now signed 403 executive actions (orders, presidential memoranda, proclamations and notices) during his first 14 months in office.

The second prong, however, is more insidious and more widespread; that is the failure to enforce existing laws — the primary responsibility of the executive branch of government.

Immigration is only one example, but it is a powerful one. Last week, I wrote about the exploding numbers of illegal migrants crossing our southern border. More than 2 million came into this country in calendar year 2021, and the numbers in 2022 are trending even higher. Biden is taking the same approach Obama did: If Congress will not pass the immigration amnesty law Biden wants, he will simply not enforce existing immigration laws.

Different tactic; same result.

This is not limited to the presidency or the federal government in general. Across the country, Democratic governors, mayors and even city councils are refusing to enforce our laws. Millions of Americans are baffled by it, but it is no accident; it is a “fundamental transformation” of the United States in the same way that the federal immigration debacle is.

Consider just what we have seen in the last few years. In the spring and summer of 2020, mobs moved through American cities, rioting, burning down and destroying businesses and other properties to the tune of $2 billion in damage and losses. How many of the rioters faced serious legal consequences? Few. In Denver, for example, hundreds of people were arrested, but only 33 were convicted. Protesters set up a police-free “autonomous zone” in Seattle that quickly became a hotbed of violence, rape and even murder. A relative handful of people have been prosecuted. Antifa activists followed suit in Portland, where its district attorney announced that he would drop the cases against most who were arrested. In Chicago, the most upscale stores on Michigan Avenue suffered millions of dollars of premeditated destruction and theft. A year later, only a fraction of those arrested had actually been to court — and of those, most got probation.

In 2021, The Guardian investigated a dozen of the country’s largest cities and reported, “In most … jurisdictions examined, at least 90% of cases were dropped or dismissed … Mayors in every city except Detroit dropped all citations over which they had jurisdiction.” These were not just misdemeanors; “(A) majority of felony charges were also dropped.”

California has seen a huge increase in retail theft, from “smash and grab” looting of high-end stores like Louis Vuitton and Nordstrom to casual, walk-in shoplifting at Walgreens and CVS. Rather than enforce laws that protect property and business owners, California passed Proposition 47, which allows thieves to steal up to $950 worth of merchandise without being charged with a felony. Most thieves are never caught or charged.

California also tolerates homeless camps, open and public drug use and urination and defecation in the streets of its once beautiful cities. As a result, people and businesses are leaving the state in record numbers.

And even when criminals are arrested, “progressive” policies like New York’s “bail reform” put them back on the street. Wisconsin resident Darrell Brooks ran his girlfriend over with his car. Despite that — and a history of violent crime — he was released on only $1,000 bond. Less than three weeks later, he drove his SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, killing six people and injuring dozens more.

Social media companies are de facto publishers but censor anyone they choose, even (often especially) those attempting to get truthful information to the public. There are no consequences.

What happens to us when the rule of law is shredded?

If criminals can steal your property with impunity, what do you really own? If rioters can burn your business to the ground and suffer no consequences, what rights do you have? If “protesters” can kick the police out of parts of the city, who protects law-abiding citizens? If homeless people can use drugs openly, what rights do other citizens have if they do not want to live or do business amidst piles of human excrement and addicts overdosing in the streets? If individuals and even other media can be silenced by major multinational corporations, what becomes of freedom of speech?

For years, Republicans have claimed “success” by blocking Democrats’ legislative agenda but have done far less in the way of affirmatively protecting or promoting their constituents’ interests. By grabbing executive power and then refusing to enforce the laws, Democrats have turned traditional legislative politics on its ear. Republicans now have to take the offensive.

The public needs to vote out prosecutors, judges, attorneys general, mayors, governors and presidents who treat our laws — and the citizens who follow them — with contempt. That includes Republicans without the guts to do anything about it.

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Laura Hollis

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She received her undergraduate degree in English and her law degree from the University of Notre Dame. Hollis' career as an attorney has spanned 28 years, the past 23 of which have been in higher education. She has taught law at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has nearly 15 years' experience in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship courses, seminars and workshops for multiple audiences. Her scholarly interests include entrepreneurship and public policy, economic development, technology commercialization and general business law. In addition to her legal publications, Hollis has been a freelance political writer since 1993, writing for The Detroit News, HOUR Detroit magazine, and the Christian Post, on matters of politics and culture. She is a frequent public speaker. Hollis has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education. She is married to Jess Hollis, a musician, voiceover artist and audio engineer, and they live in Indiana with their two children, Alistair and Celeste.

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