Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The road to anarchy

Thomas Sowell fingers judges as the main culprits in our casino-like legal system:

People who complain about the frivolous lawsuits that have outraged some and ruined others financially need to connect the dots to the present Senate controversy over the confirmation of federal judges. The attempt to replace activist judges with judges who follow the written law affects not only the basic democratic right of the voters to govern themselves through their elected representatives, but also whether our legal system becomes a danger to ordinary citizens and a bonanza to lawyers who turn it into a legalized extortion racket. Once judges start disregarding the written law in favor of their own notions, ordinary citizens have no way of knowing in advance what decisions to expect from a given situation. We can read the written law but we cannot read judges' minds. This means that there is a large and growing gray area around our laws.
He's right. For years, people have pointed to lawyers as the problem with the system, but that's just not true. It's the judges who have the power to dismiss a case or (more often) to keep alive a case that has no legal viability but appeals to the judge's personal sensibilities. Lawyers would be fools not to take advantage of the fact that you can bring anything you like before a judge, secure in the knowledge that the law doesn't matter, but that (with the right judge) the judge's personal preferences do. Of course, as Sowell correctly points out, this is a breeding ground for anarchy. America has worked so well in the past because of the reliability built into our system. People have understood that they can make business decisions in January knowing that our stable legal system will support those same decisions in December. They're not (or, in the past, they haven't been) at the tender mercies of a tyrant's random rule making. But as more and more judges abandon this legal stability and substitute their own (often warped) value systems, nobody can make a correct call about business and personal matters. Two things will inevitably happen: (1) paralysis, as people become incapable of deciding how to conduct themselves in a fluid environment; and (2) corruption, as people discover that they can buy their way to a measure of stability.