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"Decency demands no less of us or of them."

We insist that we, unlike many countries, live by The Rule of Law, though it seems as though we increasingly live under The RuleOfLawyers. The law stands for what has been legislated by duly elected representatives. Lawyers stand for anything, for they trained as advocates capable of arguing any side of any issue. They seem to seek something other than truth or justice, the oft-touted American Way, but their way instead. They shamelessly shave pigs, split hairs, and boldly dare to support any position they're being paid to support. A beleaguered corp of public defenders, underfunded and over-scheduled, seem to stand alone against well-entrenched forces dedicated to denying anything they choose to deny. Absurdity reigns. Inequality under the law prevails. Respect for the law seems neigh-on to impossible.

A democracy seems at root a faith-based form of government.
A citizen must retain faith in the integrity of elections, that they actually follow the will of the people, in the legislative process, that our representatives fairly advocate for those who elected them, and in our courts, that they will seek to support legislative intent rooted in genuine representation. Democracy also depends upon a level of generosity, for hegemony founded solely upon representing a legislative majority beggars common decency. Lincoln, a self-taught lawyer, proposed charity for all, even for our common enemies. The whole system cracks under the weight of single-minded advocacy. Lawyers perceive the law as fungible, infinitely manipulatable in the service of their clients. Citizens might rightly believe the law to be more immutable, anchoring at least agreed-upon truth. Any citizen might understandably feel confused when they witness the law being used to ennoble lies, when it comes to mean whatever some partisan insists that it means.

The age-oldest defense strategy involves denying everything. When accused of a crime, the defendant's advocate issues a strongly-worded denial. Should the client find himself barged in upon while in matrimonial bed with a doberman, his advocate denies witness testimony, blaming the affair on the doberman, who by law lives beyond the law. In the Denver broadcast region, local news programs seem largely supported by shyster lawyers, for Colorado's not yet a no-fault state. These advocates encourage anyone involved in any sort of accident to contact them immediately, for they will sue the pants off the other party's insurance company for, as they repeatedly say, "Millions!" Endless streams of regular people just like you provide testimonials as to how their lawyer created a huge payday for them out of their unfortunate collision. No sky adequately defines any limit. Faulting pays a lot better than justice ever could.

Audacity displaces fairness. Should a judge rule against, appeals proliferate from lawyers hoping to find a superior court judge of their own political persuasion to over-rule in their favor. The political right rails against judicial advocacy while apparently being the sole source of judicial advocacy in our system. Advocate judges rule in favor of firmly held belief over the Rule Of Law, insisting that any law which infringes upon even the more fringy belief hampers freedom and liberty. Should a fringe belief infringe upon what might be understood to be a wider public good, damn the good in favor of the belief. The Rule Of Law rightly stands above all religious doctrine. It might have taken inspiration from religious traditions, but it cannot stand as an advocate for parochial doctrine. The democratic public must have the freedom
from religion as well as the freedom to practice any religion, with the caveat that no religion carries the right to infringe upon the public's freedom from it. One cannot legislate or enforce piety of any stripe. Our Puritan ancestors proved that.

Advocates might well argue otherwise, for they trade in argument. With some administrations, dark forces seem to dominate. Our current administration-that-can't-seem-to administer-anything seems to care little for The Rule Of Law. It daily exhibits an abiding hostility toward the law and advocates in favor of simply ignoring any law it finds inconvenient to respect. Our legislature has likewise fallen back from defending and upholding The Law we rightly presumed might rule, in favor of a tenacious anarchy where anyone willing and able to pay for advocacy can get away with anything; The Rule Of Lawyers rather than The Rule Of Law. None of us understand where this degradation might end. We could advocate ourselves into the ever-deepening dystopia cynics have long argued seems inevitable. We might, though, come to our senses and start dismantling the well-funded machine that otherwise seems destined to destroy every vestige of democracy. Either outcome seems possible.

I pray that a decency might prevail, one which routinely transcends mere advocacy to seek some tolerable balance between those who blindly advocate and those who respectfully legislate. We must insist upon respectful legislators, though, and vote out the ones who have advanced while in the pocket of nihilistic advocates, for we deserve The Rule Of Law and not TheRuleOfLawyers. Decency demands no less of us or of them.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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