Judge Andrew Napolitano: All Three Branches of Government Are Acting Above the Law_Featured_, Politics Friday, July 20th, 2012
(By Judge Andrew Napolitano | reason.com)
The greatest distinguishing factor between countries in which there is some freedom and those where authoritarian governments manage personal behavior is the Rule of Law. The idea that the very laws that the government is charged with enforcing could restrain the government itself is uniquely Western and was accepted with near unanimity at the time of the creation of the American Republic. Without that concept underlying the exercise of governmental power, there is little hope for freedom.
The Rule of Law is a three-legged stool on which freedom sits. The first leg requires that all laws be enacted in advance of the behavior they seek to regulate and be crafted and promulgated in public by a legitimate authority. The goal of all laws must be the preservation of individual freedom. A law is not legitimate if it is written by an evil genius in secret or if it punishes behavior that was lawful when the behavior took place or if its goal is to solidify the strength of those in power. It also is not legitimate if it is written by the president instead of Congress.
Judge Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. He is author of It Is Dangerous to Be Right When the Government Is Wrong and Lies the Government Told You and others.