A GOVERNMENT OF LAWS

In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means-to declare that in the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal-would bring terrible retribution.  – Justice Brandeis, Supreme Court of the United States.

When the law condemns

a form of behavior just because many people consider it to be evil, such legal condemnation and the penalties that follow upon it constitute an unnecessary and improper invasion of the liberties of the citizen who chooses to deviate from the norm. punishing such persons is unjust because the law ought not to interfere with the citizen’s right to choose whether to behave in a manner that is considered respectable, proper, or moral by the community, or to go in the direction of his own “unrespectable,” “improper,” or “immoral” desires.

 When a man is brought into court

Lincoln Memorial

and is accused of having committed a grave offense against society, all the mechanisms of the state are set into motion to bring him to justice. The public prosecutor or the district attorney often has a veritable army at his disposal, all trained to flush out information that may be relevant to the crime, all paid by the state to employ their every working hour questioning witnesses, examining evidence, and building a case that will likely lead to conviction of the accused. The latter, on the other hand, usually has very limited means at his or her disposal. Often, a defendant is privileged if he has enough assets to pay the fees of an attorney. Few ordinary men can hire teams of private investigators who can devote their time, skills, and resources exclusively to the search for evidence and the building of a defense. No private citizen can match the modern state when the latter brings all its forces into play after he has been accused of having violated the law.

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