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Overruling the Rule of Law

The Republican Party's frantic efforts to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett are merely the latest sign that it has abandoned any pretense of respecting America's constitutional system. Like Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom, US President Donald Trump and the GOP will stop at nothing to hold on to power.

LONDON – “There is such a thing as lawless legality,” wrote the American journalist Walter Lippmann, “and it is to be found where men deny that in making or interpreting laws, they are bound by the spirit of law.” Lippmann’s words, almost a hundred years old, could have been written yesterday. Indeed, nowadays, such men can be found everywhere.

In the United States, Attorney General William Barr is turning the Department of Justice (DOJ) into a machine for doling out favors to President Donald Trump’s friends and enacting vengeance against his enemies. The United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party is scheming to strip the country’s Supreme Court of its authority to rule on a wide range of legal matters, and openly proclaims its willingness to violate international law. Populist governments in Hungary, India, Poland, the Philippines, Turkey, and elsewhere have turned courts into reliable rubber stamps for their authoritarian policies.

Across the world’s democracies, too many elected leaders have found advantage not only in expressing contempt for the spirit of the law, but in denying the letter of the law as well. Nowhere has this become more obvious – or more obviously alarming – than in the Anglo-Saxon world.

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