The Queen, our shared heritage and the rule of law – AMAC

AMAC Exclusive – By David P. Deavel

Even for those who do not find the British monarchy itself a source of fascination or spiritual uplift, the death of Queen Elizabeth II was a moving moment. It certainly had to do with her maintaining the outward dignity that we lack in an age of would-be and aspiring statesmen such as Beto O’Rourke and John Fetterman, who dress as if they were sacrificing the important career of rolling joints in their parents’ basements. . The Queen’s record of calm courage reminded people of an older, classical, Christian sense of statesmanship and duty. I believe Americans reacted as strongly as they did because she was a vivid reminder of the English legal and constitutional heritage that the American experience adopted and adapted, and which is so under attack these days- this. The death of a monarch leads us to question the health of our institutions.

Not everyone could see the dignity or the heroism, despite the fact that an honest look would reveal, as Daniel Berman related during AMAC News readers, how “Queen Elizabeth reinvented the British monarchy as a global symbol of traditional values”. There was the predictable hatred of woke journalists and academics, like Professor Carnegie Mellon who tweeted that because Elizabeth had ruled over ‘a thieving and genocidal empire’ she wished the Queen ‘excruciating pain’ as she left. this life.

But what many people have begun to realize from articles like Berman’s is that Elizabeth had turned the monarchy “into an international system of soft power” precisely because she was not genocidal. , thief or (and although the teacher didn’t say it, I think it was implied) racist. Elizabeth II was, for historically illiterate academics and journalists (a sizeable part of both professions), the reigning monarch at the time when the sun set, despite British branding efforts, on the British Empire . It was during this decolonization that Elizabeth proved herself by refusing to endorse the South African apartheid system, a move which Berman said lost South Africa as a member of the British Commonwealth. Significantly, South Africans remembered this and returned to the Commonwealth – and therefore called Elizabeth their queen – after the defeat of apartheid.

Her rejection of apartheid dates back to 1960, when she was only 34 years old. How did she do it?

His personal action was based on his understanding of the Anglo-American heritage of law and rights. Many might scoff upon hearing this. Do you remember the 2018 controversy when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to the National Sheriffs Association and called the sheriff “an essential part of the Anglo-American heritage of enforcement? of the law” ? Predictably, a two-minute fatwa of hate was demanded by left-leaning journalists and academics who interpreted “Anglo-American” as “white supremacy”. Conservatives had to remind the public that famous constitutional law scholar, ahem, Barack Obama too used the term several times. Faced with this reality, even the Washington Post published a article warning liberals that such a phrase was not white supremacist or even controversial in legal circles.

Anglo-American simply means that our American system has its roots in the English system, which itself was largely derived from the ancient Roman understanding of law. This includes offices such as that of a sheriff (derived from the medieval term “shire reeve”, the county’s chief officer). It also includes the concepts of due process, presumption of innocence for the accused and equality before the law, which the young queen said was seriously violated under apartheid. Most importantly, it includes the very concept of the rule of law, which is often described in an abbreviated form as “a government of laws, not of men”.

The rule of law, as jurist and political scientist James McClellan (1937-2005) described itis really “a doctrine concerning what the law should being – a set of standards, in other words, to which laws must conform. What is this set of standards? On the one hand, to be considered a law, a rule must ultimately conform to natural law. This is supposed to be a controversial claim today, but it was not so for the American settlers. McClellan cites James Otis, including 1764 The rights of the British colonies affirmed and proven complains about the British Parliament’s abandonment of this duty.

“To say that Parliament is absolute and arbitrary is a contradiction. Parliament can’t do 2 and 2 [equal] 5. …Parliaments must in any case declare what is good for the whole, but it is not the declaration of parliament that does so. In each case there must be a higher authority: God. If any act of parliament were contrary to any of its natural laws, which are immutably true, their declaration would be contrary to eternal truth, fairness, and justice, and therefore void.

Nor was it controversial to such figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., who argued, citing Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, that an unjust law, that is, a law that does not was not in accordance with natural law, was not a law at all.

The rule of law also indicates that to be a real law, as McClellan sums it up, any “rule” must be “general, known and certain”. It must also be “forward-looking,” because people who in the past did not know the law should not be held responsible for it. And above all “it must be applied in the same way”.

One could add to McClellan’s summary the principle that all true law must be enacted by a competent authority.

The death of this queen not only makes us sentimental about public figures who are more interested in the “brand”, success and prosperity of their country than in themselves. It makes us think about the threats to the rule of law.

How healthy are our institutions? How committed are they to the rule of law? Let’s start with the enactment of our laws. Many conservatives have objected for decades that the rule-making of our administrative agencies does not fit the American constitutional configuration. Originally created under the control of the executive, they have multiplied and evolved into a largely independent and irresponsible fourth branch of government. This is a persistent problem, although the recent West Virginia vs. EPA case resulted in no more review whether the rules made by the administrative agencies are really what Congress ordered or not. However, it will take a lot more work to fully bring the legislation to Congress.

Are the laws “general, known and certain”? It is not clear that they are one of these things. Harvey Silvergate argued in his book three crimes a day that when it comes to criminal law, we have so many laws in effect that the average professional does what his title says. This situation of unknown and uncertain legality means that enforcement can be selective. And that’s what seems to be happening.

Equal justice and the fair applicability of laws seem in doubt at a time when big-city Democratic district attorneys simply refuse to enforce the law. They seem far away when our immigration laws are simply treated as dead letters by the Biden administration. They certainly seem dead as Hilary Clinton was able to create a private server, in violation of the law, and use it to transmit and store classified documents while she was serving secretary of state, yet not face to real consequences for this action. Certainly no invasive raids on his property. Yet a former president, who has previously declassified documents, was raided by the FBI that included the assets of his wife and son.

These are extraordinarily disturbing actions. And they are getting worse. On Thursday, the same day Queen Elizabeth died, search warrants or subpoenas were executed against dozens of Trump allies. The subpoenas were for communications relating to the 2020 election: certification, alternate voters, fraud and the January 6 rally. As red statecommented Nick Arama in report on these raids, “This is an incredible escalation by the Biden administration and it is going to be difficult to justify that this is not an effort to prosecute and silence political opponents.” Taking this extraordinary step at a time when a Rasmussen poll shows that 53% of Americans think the FBI is “Biden’s personal Gestapo” is extremely destructive.

As we’ve discussed here before, President Biden’s public portrayals are extraordinarily absurd, but his public threats delivered during his speech in Philadelphia were truly no laughing matter. That he started to act on it is even worse.

We mourn Queen Elizabeth for who she was and what she stood for: courage, dignity and our legal and constitutional heritage. That America’s own aging head of state also leads a government that seems determined to pervert that legacy makes us crave leadership that would revive the great principles of law by which our two nations were made great. – and can be made great again if only we return to them.

David P. Deavel is associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and senior contributor to The Imaginative Conservative. Follow him on Gettr @davidpdeavel.

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