Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laws vs. Records

One of the main differences between the two things in the title of this piece is simply that records were made to be broken.
There was no law that said Hank Aaron could not break the Babe’s record.  And there was also no law to stop Barry Bonds from returning the favor to the Brave’s number 44 a few years later although he may have had some medicinal help.

But of course laws are also broken, especially when they are considered unjust by the breaking party as in a revolution.
One could argue that our nation was born as a result of a treasonous act breaking the law of our good old Mother England.  Naturally after fighting the war for Independence and winning the act was no longer considered illegal, at least not in this country.
We’ve come a long way since that fight in the 1770s and we’ve written many laws so that our government, of, by, and for the people may go forward with everyone’s best interest in mind.
But what of the people who write those laws?
Should they not be held to the same standards as the rest of us?
This week we learned that the Bush administration committed a few more illegal acts than were originally disclosed.  They used funds for personal and political gain that were clearly supposed to kept for other use.
We all remember the Nixon Frost interview and the famous statement by the late President that, “If the President does it it’s not illegal!”
That should and did cause the buzzers to go off all across this land as absurd.
In fact many people feel that even murder is legal, as long as you don’t get caught.
We also learned this week that two of our Supreme Court justices have engaged in, if not illegal then certainly immoral or questionable behavior.
Last year Justice Alito lit up the television screen with his famous or rather infamous stupid action of mouthing the words, “Not True”  during the President’s State of the Union speech.  He was almost right, he is not a true Justice!
This year Mr. Alito has said he may not attend the speech.  Oh please, pretty please!
By the time you read this we will know if he kept his promise but frankly who needs him there?
He like the two other justices making headline news this week has already shown his true feelings about the Democratic Party and President Obama in particular.
When Justice Antonin Scalia decided to go behind closed doors and give a keynote speech at a Tea Party rally he did not break any laws but he clearly acted in a manner unfit for his position.
Although the invitations also eventually went out to Democrats it was clear that was done to appease and stop the growing furor over a stupid act.
When we found out that for the past decade Justice Thomas deliberately left off his wife’s income from his financial disclosure statement he did not break the law but he clearly acted in a manner unfit for his position.
In the case of Mr. Scalia he did not nor would he ever apologize for his strange actions.
But in the case of Mr. Thomas even his excuse rings of falsehoods.  He stated that the rules on the financial disclosure forms confused him and that’s why he made the omission.
But he had been listing his wife’s income in the years prior to his more recent lack of knowledge.
And are we to understand that the Justice is claiming ignorance on such a simple point of law?  That is troublesome on so many levels.
Could his sudden lapse in correct filing have something to do with the fact that his activist wife is a staunch Tea Party representative dead set against all things Obama?
Is it possible that her income from the Conservative think tanks would cause some eyebrows to be raised among the media and in the political circles?
Where there’s smoke big guy!
In return for their lifetime appointment Justices above all must be impartial.  While there is no current precedent to change that lifetime position an exception should and must be made in cases of clear impropriety!
Judges are always recusing themselves from hearing cases they have personal knowledge of and surely they will not preside over a case in which they are involved.  It is not easy to be impartial but that’s why they get the big bucks, and the status.  If they can not live up to the simple ‘follow the rules’ of their jobs then how can we have faith in their rulings?
Perhaps Justice Thomas should recuse himself from the bench altogether and join his wife in her Conservative endeavors more openly.  Of course doing so will probably make his wife less valuable to the cause.
Politicians and judges are human and prone to the same human frailties as the rest of us.  Temptation is always hanging around and rearing its ugly head.  The best leaders are the ones who can resist that imposter and continue doing their jobs, the jobs for which they were hired or elected.
But if they cannot perform their tasks in a fair and unbiased manner they must step down or face the consequences.
We are still a free nation with freedoms abounding as long as we don’t break the law.
So while I hate to sound like a broken record I must come back to the original thought about laws and whether or not they are made to be broken like records.
I guess when the politicians and judges have the power to write the laws all they have to do is change them when they need to do so, so as to not be caught breaking them.
Unfortunately they’ll change them back before you or I have a chance of using the same loophole.

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