“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.
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