Equal Justice Under The Law.
Equal Justice under the Law.
“Equal Justice Under Law”. It is a slogan engraved over our United States Supreme Court, taken from our 14th Amendment, which states: “no State can deprive particular persons or classes of persons of equal and impartial justice under the law.” It stands for the principle that our legal system–and the judges and juries in it–is required to apply the law with impartiality. While many assume that this is merely meant to prevent favoritism of the rich and powerful, this is not true. It applies equally to prevent preferential treatment of the poor and seemingly downtrodden. In other words, justice is particular, not class-based, requiring a decision on the merits of each particular case.
This has always been so. In the earliest democracy of Ancient Greece, in 431 B.C., Pericles stated: “If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences…; class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit.” Smart guy. Going back even further to the earliest law of Moses in 1446 B.C., the same admonition applied: “You are not to follow the majority in doing wrong, and you are not to testify in a lawsuit so as to follow the majority and pervert justice. Neither are you to show partiality to a poor man in his lawsuit.” (Exodus 23:2-3). In order words, sympathies, stereotypes, and populist ideas have no place in a courtroom. There is no such thing as “Social Justice”, only justice. If law is used to “make up for” inequities in society or to achieve some “greater good”, then justice is perverted and resentment is bred. Equal Justice under the Law is the only way to achieve justice and harmony in society. Anything less is injustice.