Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Are we losing the rule of law?

James Madison wrote:  "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow.  Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?"

A foundation of our freedom is the rule of law - i.e., that the law - not the whims of politicians - govern.  Madison's statement brilliantly captures other key components of the rule of law:  it must be published, it must be understandable, it must be stable, it must be concise.

One can only stop and wonder what Madison would think of today's thousands of pages omnibus bills, passed at lightening speed, with confessions by congressmen that they don't have the time or ability to read what they vote upon.  One can rightly ask, are we slowly losing the rule of law?

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