August 10, 2010

“A government of laws, and not of men” is ideal – when you agree with the laws


“A government of laws, and not of men.”
       John Adams (1735-1826)
       American lawyer, politician and 2nd President of the United States
       In his 7th “Novanglus” letter, published in the Boston Gazette in 1774
       The concept of “a government of laws, and not of men” reflects a political philosophy that dates back to the ancient Greeks. But the phrase itself was enshrined in history and quotation books by John Adams. Prior to the start of the American Revolution, Adams used it in one of his “Letters of Novanglus,” which argued that Great Britain’s treatment of American colonists violated their rights under British law. In the seventh Novanglus letter, Adams wrote that “the British constitution is much more like a republic than an empire...a government of laws, and not of men.”


“Judge Bolton...We can read the Constitution and federal law just like you can, and you’re just flat wrong...We are a nation of laws, not men, and we are going to exercise our right to follow duly enacted federal and state law and carry out our solemn duty to protect our citizens from harm whether you like it or not. We’re not going to allow a petty tyrant like you to deny us our right to govern ourselves and to rob us of our ability to enforce good laws.”
       Bryan Fischer
       Conservative activist and commentator 
       Post on the “Renew America” website, July 29, 2010, criticizing Federal Judge Susan Bolton's decision to block implementation of Arizona’s new immigration law


“When every citizen is vulnerable to prosecution and prison, then there is no effective counterweight to reign in government overreaching in every sphere. The hallowed notion of a government of laws becomes a cruel and cynical joke.” 
       Florencio Mendiola, Jr.
       Comment on the CNN website, July 6, 2010, responding to criticism of Judge Bolton’s decision


“The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right.” 
       U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall
       In the precedent-setting Marbury v. Madison decision (1803), which made it clear that the judicial branch of government – ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court – is the final interpreter of Constitutional issues and rights


“The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.”
       American rock musician Frank Zappa (1940-1993)
       Famous quote widely attributed to Zappa, though the source is elusive


“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule.”
       President Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006)
       Speech on August 9, 1974, the day he became president due to the Richard Nixon’s resignation over the Watergate scandal. One month later, President Ford gave Nixon a “full, free and absolute” pardon for any crimes he may have committed while president. (It’s questionable whether “the people” — or the courts — would have done that.)

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