For this issue last year I enthusiastically wrote about spring time and my penchant for gardening. A lot has happened in that intervening year. While my garden is just beginning to bloom with the beauty of everything spring promises, today I felt compelled to write briefly about the importance of the rule of law.
The rule of law is loosely defined as the norm that all people and all institutions are held accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced. The concept of the rule of law is extremely important in a representative democracy—where representatives are invested with the authority of the people to act on their behalf when exercising the powers of the government. Many positive benefits derive from the confidence in the rule of law. Most importantly from the perspective of a representative democracy, the promise of the rule of law ensures the smooth transition of power following an election. The members of a losing party are likely to be more willing to accept an electoral defeat when they are confident their basic rights will be protected by the equal application of the law under the new regime. Without the protection of the promise of the rule of law, fear and uncertainty prevail for those comprising the minority. That deplorable condition undermines the very foundation of a peaceful society.
The increasing rash of accusations of fake news by politicians from all levels of governments around the world and by media talking heads appears to be weakening the people’s confidence in the rule of law. The work of those who enforce the rule of law helps to restore that confidence. Standing behind those enforcers and defending the virtues of the rule of law is more vital now than it has ever been. I stand behind and will defend the rule of law as well as all those charged with enforcing it. Will you?
Michael Franklin Smith
Editor and Chair of the Board of Editors, Defense Counsel Journal
Shareholder, McAfee & Taft, A Professional Corporation