Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rule of Law

It's pretty bad when you have to raid another blog's comments. But I couldn't help myself. After noticing that the Monoblogue had posted the MDGOP press release (hours after I did), and that he had one comment already, I had to do something.

The commenter raised the ol' you-can't-blame-them-for-coming-here-to-work-at-jobs-Americans-won't-do "argument":

"These folks come here to work. Why should they be punished for responding to an economic need? We need to find a way to allow enough immigrants into this country to meet our economic needs."

To which I reply:
Because there is a law. Not just any law. There is a U.S. law. U.S. Law is supposed to be waaaaay different than, say, Mexican law. We expect laws in this U.S. to be enforced. It is, after all, why the illegals come here. Forget about working, let's just focus on The Law. The law in the U.S. is what allows people like you and me to hand over 30 percent of what we earn to the government without thinking too hard about what's done with it. Why? because we know the LAW will be enforced equally and fairly on everyone.

Now the LAW also gives us comfort in knowing that if we disagree with how much is taken and how it's spent we can change it. So the LAW in this country is very attractive. People from all over the world know this. Even the poor folks in Mexico know this. Yet they are actively, if unwittingly undermining that very same rule of law that comforts them. The world is watching us once again, to see whether we will uphold the sanctity of the rule of law. If we don't enforce immigration law, which laws will we enforce? Suddenly all laws suspect. Laws protecting private property, patents, contracts, life, etc.

***Update: counter jab on the Monoblogue. From Marc:
"Did these folks break the law? Sure. But that doesn’t really bother me. They aren’t hurting me."

Marc,....The concept of the Rule of Law is central to this many-faceted issue. Addressing it is not a means of avoiding the questions. If one cannot adequately address the impact on rule of law, then one hasn't a leg to stand on.
"Did these folks break the law? Sure. But that doesn’t really bother me. They aren’t hurting me."
So we should take it that if they were, in fact, hurting you, we should then enforce the law. Yes? Do you not see how rapidly this argument leads to anarchy?


Marc Kilmer said...

Since we are talking about changing the law, I'm not sure how you can make this a debate about the rule of law. If the law is changed, then the rule of law is not threatened.

As far as whether I'm bothered by these folks breaking the law, I don't really believe in laws that stop people from coming here and making a better life for themselves by working. So if someone breaks that law, so what? The only legitimate laws, in my eyes, are the ones that protect life, liberty, and property. Laws that restrict freedom don't get much respect from me. Our nation's arbitrary immigration laws restrict freedom. It's not about anarchy, it's about liberty. There's a big difference. In my mind, if someone wants to come here and work, they should have the freedom to do so. If they broke a stupid law to achieve this, then I'm not going to get worked up about it.

Marc Kilmer said...

A further point that I forgot to make above -- I find it interesting that you are so worked up over the "rule of law" and yet support Fred Thompson for President. After all, Thompson has come out in favor of pardoning Scooter Libby, a convicted felon. Libby was convicted of a serious crime and yet Thompson supports wiping the slate clean, giving him amnesty, so to speak. That surely shows disdain for the rule of law, doesn't it?

Mike Netherland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Netherland said...

First, let me say thank you for commenting on my blog! I'm sure Swartz is happy to have us take the argument "outside."

Second, do you actually read what you write? The Libby thing, I have to admit is worthy of more comment in a minute. But the first one, man, it's like you making your own "Kick Me" signs.

When you talk about some laws being more "legitimate" than others " my eyes...," then criticize the current immigration law as "arbitrary," is, to be charitable, ludicrous.

Fred!'s support for a pardon for Scooter Libby is completely within the law. In this case the law vests the completely arbitrary act of the pardon in one official. But is it really arbitrary? The President can't pardon a man one day then re-instate his conviction the next on a whim. Why not? Because the man would be denied due process of the LAW.

Marc Kilmer said...

As you say, I'm sure Mike is glad we've migrated off his blog (although he does seem pleased when he gets a lot of comments. . .).

If you think my comments on the law are "ludicrous" then please explain why. Simply labeling them as such does little to help me sort out any flaws I may have in my thinking.

I also fully realize that any pardon of Libby would be within the law. That goes to my point, though. You are criticizing a desire to change the immigration law as an attack on the "rule of law." But changing the law is well within the rule of law. But, you say, we should not do so because we would be rewarding lawbreakers. The same logic applies to the Libby pardon. A pardon is well within the law, but pardoning Libby would be rewarding a lawbreaker. If you attack changing the immigration laws on a "rule of law" platform, then you must do the same for any Libby pardon.

Mike Netherland said...

It is impossible to seriously argue that the current immigration law is "arbitrary" when you hold the view that enforcement of our laws should in fact be completely arbitrary in accordance with how you personally are or are not affected.

This is where your argument is shaky.

Marc Kilmer said...

No, I said nothing about enforcement. What I said was that I don't really care if someone breaks the law to enter the country and work. If they get caught, they should pay the penalty just like any other lawbreaker. Because the law is unjust, however, it should be changed.

I think a lot of laws are wrong and it doesn't bother me if people disregard them. So if someone, say, breaks a gun law in DC and keeps a loaded handgun in his possession to protect his home, I have no problem with that. If the person gets caught, I'm not going to advocate that he be let out of jail, but I won't think that person committed any real crime. And I will advocate in favor of changing the unjust law.

So now that we've taken care of that, how about you address your shaky ground, that of being in favor of amnesty for the "criminal" Scooter Libby but not in favor of amnest for the "criminal" undocumented workers?

Mike Netherland said...

I am glad that you are in favor of enforcing the law. It's step in the right direction and puts you on the anti-amnesty-side of the argument. Yes?

We'll leave to another debate the "degrees" to which "unjust" laws should be enforced.

As to the pardon\amnesty for Scooter Libby; It is the Constitutional perogative of the President of the United States to grant full or partial pardons to ANYONE accused of or convicted of a violating the law of the land.

In the case of Scooter Libby, anyone with a heart and a soul not to mention half a brain realizes that Libby was made into a political scapegoat.

So while I may regard certain pardons by certain Presidents with disdain, I would have no argument that his so doing has undermined the rule of law in this country.

So if after pardoning Libby, the President then issues pardons for one or all those accused of being in this country illegally he may be violating the norms of good taste, further eroding the very moral fabric that barely keeps our society together, and making a mockery of the Pardon power, but he is in completely within his rights and in full compliance with the law.