“Equal Justice Under the Law.” That phrase is engraved on the Supreme Court building. We all want to believe that we will get a fair shake if, heaven forbid, we have to stand trial. Equal justice is still a societal expectation of Americans. However, many are concerned that there is now a two-tiered justice system in this country. Is there one justice system for you and me and another for the rich and powerful?
Is there liberty and justice for all? John Adams, one of our Founders, first Vice-President and later, second President of the United States, was adamant about keeping monarchies, oligarchies, and the like out of inherited or unilateral power. He is attributed with the oft-stated principle, “We are a nation of laws, not men.” In other words, we respect authority, but they must obey the same laws that we do and suffer the same consequences that we do. Adams was fed up with nations run by kings, royalty, and elites. He wanted our Constitution to measure justice in this country, not inheritance or privilege. Are we living under Adams’ founding principle today? My high school students believe equal justice under the law is the right way, but they look at me with a puzzled expression because they see a different system in operation when they read the daily news.
What about the “scales of justice” that represent the weighing of evidence and balancing it? Indeed when an investigation is based on a lie, there is no balance of justice. The scales are tipped.
Lady Justice is a world-renowned symbol denoting fair administration of the law “without corruption, greed, prejudice, or favor.” You’ll find her in the Supreme Court and courts around the country. Maybe my wary students are correct. Maybe someone stole the blindfold from the eyes of Lady Justice-and she is weeping.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. 🇺🇸