A government of men, not of laws

Published: Monday, March 18 2013 10:05 a.m. MDT

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks about strategy to mitigate the theft of U.S. trade secrets, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. The Obama administration is launching a new strategy to fight the growing theft of trade secrets following new evidence linking cyberstealing to China's military. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Jacquelyn Martin, AP

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“The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men,” wrote Chief Justice John Marshall in his famous decision in Marbury v. Madison. According to Katrina Vanden Heuvel, this statement is central to the American creed because it explains that citizens have rights protected by the due process of law.

“Yet last week Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking for the administration with an alarmingly casual nonchalance, traduced the whole notion of a nation of laws,” according to Heuvel.

Heuvel argues this is true because of two statements Holder made. First, Holder claimed that it is “possible to imagine” the president can claim power to authorize a lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.

Second, Holder claimed before the Judiciary Committee that big banks were too large to jail. According to Andrew Ross Sorkin, “Holder blurted out what we’ve all known to be true but few inside the Obama administration have said aloud”: Big banks are in fact too big to jail. But this means that some institutions will not be held legally responsible because prosecuting them will have a negative impact on the national economy.

“Taken together, the attorney general’s astounding claims undermine the whole notion of a nation of laws,” claims Heuvel.

Email: mhartvigsen@desnews.com

Read more about a nation of laws on Washington Post.

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