Theodore Roosevelt once said: “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it. . . . Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.”
Central to the American form of government is the primacy of the rule of law. We are all subject to the law, no matter how rich, well-connected, or powerful we may happen to be.
It is easy to lose faith in the equality and fairness of the legal system. We’ve seem an Oakland politician manage to avoid prosecution for a DUI. (Go to my previous blog Oakland Councilman DeLaFuente Dodges DUI Charges.) We’ve seen President Bush appoint Independent Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in order to investigate wrongdoing in the White House, only to turn around and grant clemency when someone-Dick Cheney’s right hand man, Scooter Libby-was actually convicted.
But recent events tend to reaffirm my faith in the fairness and evenhandedness of the criminal justice system. The FBI announced that it would take over the investigation of police corruption in Contra Costa County. French diplomat and IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arraigned this morning in Manhattan on criminal charges stemming from his alleged attempt to rape a hotel housekeeper. Signs hoisted by hotel workers of the New York Hotel and Motel Trade Council read: “Not in New York.”