Making a mockery of Justice

Don Siegelman, the former Governor of Arkansas whose politically-motivated prosecution we've discussed here, was thrown in jail this week. This is the shameful conclusion of an investigation that Scott Horton of Harpers calls "a political vendetta, conceived, developed and pursued for a corrupt purpose." And he has the evidence to back that up, in spades; the web of deceit and corruption surrounding this case is much too intricate and tangled to delineate here, but Horton has been doing an excellent job of unearthing and explaining the myriad dirty secrets surrounding the prosecution.

The operation to ruin Siegelman and seize power in Alabama, masterminded by Karl Rove, was so outrageous and underhanded that Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer who had previously run a campaign against Siegelman, decided she had to speak out about it. When it became known that she was going to blow the whistle, "Simpson’s house was burned to the ground, and her car was driven off the road and totaled."

A powerful editorial in the New York Times a few days ago calls on Congress to immediately investigate Siegelman's case, since Bush's Justice Department is not at all interested in promoting Justice. From the editorial:

"The idea of federal prosecutors putting someone in jail for partisan gain is shocking. But the United States attorneys scandal has made clear that the Bush Justice Department acts in shocking ways."

Can we really be shocked anymore, though? The Greek philosophers believed justice to be the highest and most important political virtue. Yet though words like "freedom" and "liberty" are used profusely (and loosely) by this Administration, the word "justice" almost never enters their rhetoric, unless in the context of bringing the evil-doers to it. And it is easy to see why; they are simply uninterested in the concept. The Administration and its friends have persistently tried (and largely succeeded) to turn every level of the Judicial branch into an arm of the White House.

From Cheney's constant efforts to make the executive branch above the law, to the regressive right-wing activist rulings of the Roberts Supreme Court, to a a study of the "Bush Justice Department’s prosecution of cases involving political figures [that] showed seven prosecutions of Democrats for every one Republican," it is exceedingly clear that these people, who share a strong disdain for justice and the rule of law, have no interest in playing by the rules, and that is a truth which is ultimately bad for Americans of all political pursuasions. In the end, the great damage done to the Judicial branch may be the most harmful and long-lasting legacy of the Bush era.