Law in Contemporary Society

The Law Is Not An Objective Practice, It Is A Tool Used By Those In Power To Keep Power

-- By UdokaOkafor - 01 Mar 2018

Taught To Believe That The Law Is Objective

When I was younger I had a na´ve understanding of the law. I thought it was a neutral tool wielded to defend and advocate for those who were unable or prevented from advocating for themselves. I believed that when the 14th amendment of the Constitution stated "no state shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" it could only be read to mean that all people are equal in the eyes of the law, and the laws would be enforced the same from person to person regardless of race, religion, or gender. I grew up being taught that lady justice was blind, and the constitution did not see race, and slavery was a momentary injustice in American history that was righted after emancipation.

Growing Disenchantment With The Law

As I grew older I learned that what I was being taught was far from the truth. The law is touted as an objective measure by those in power to mask their oppression of minorities. Congress is supposed to enact laws that benefit the people, but they enact the laws with favorable provisions that are lobbied for by wealthy donors. It is system that makes no sense. The most innocuous reason that can be given for this system is that it is a series of missteps that have gotten away from congressmen. Their platforms are influenced to varying degrees by donors, gerrymandered districts, parties, interest groups, and wealthy or statistically influential people. More often than not these groups lack the voices of discrete and insular minorities and the resulting policies are created and instituted without their interests in mind.

The congressmen wield real power when they enact laws, so they enact laws that are favorable to them and people like them without regard to their constituents. What are they really going to do? Vote the congressman out of office to be replaced by another who engages in the same practice? Congressman not only have no real incentive to do work only for the benefit of the people that they serve, but they are incentivized to do work for their donors otherwise lose the election for their next term.

Judicial Opinions Are Not Unbiased

This is also true of judicial opinions. Judges often have their views on the cases decided before they begin to legally analyze the issue.

The problem with this is that the same kinds of people are elected are appointed judgeships, so often the same few views are proliferated onto the masses. It is true that the vast majority of cases is the simple administration of justice via a deliberately structured system. Implicit biases are more widely understood today, and Judges are conscious of this fact and take great strides to not let this effect their administration of justice. However, there is something to be said of a system that lacks broad lived experiences of those who they are administrating justice over. No amount of training or reading can be substituted.

There is no unbiased legal application that is used to render decisions, it is what the judge believes the best outcome ought to be. The problem becomes when this "best outcome" often stifles the voices of minorities. This is a well-known truth that judges seem to deny. Take for example outrage expressed by Judge Posner's pragmatic judging approach. "I pay very little attention to legal rules, statutes, constitutional provisions," Judge Posner said. "A case is just a dispute. The first thing you do is ask yourself - forget about the law - what is a sensible resolution of this dispute?" Although practical and just to those who use this approach, this practice only benefits those who are currently in power believe need advocating for. Those in power and those who are currently in power continue to empower those who are like them, leading to the few constantly in power over the many.

The Law was Constructed without the Masses in Mind

My qualm with the law is not that the few govern the many. In any system, this will inevitably be true. My issues with the law is that it is derived from the Constitution which was constructed by white wealthy powerful men for white wealthy powerful men that inevitably allowed white wealthy powerful men to continually remain in power generation after generation. All men were created equal, but the early in American history state legislatures drafted laws to subvert this equality. After outright racism became socially intolerable, explicit system was transformed into a sophisticated structural discriminatory system which proves even more difficult to correct. Although there has been significant progress, there is still work that needs to be done. It is 2018, and Congress is a sea of white men with a handful of minorities and women sprinkled in. I find it difficult to believe that a country governed by monolithic experiences will reflect the interests of its diverse population.

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r3 - 27 Apr 2018 - 03:37:57 - UdokaOkafor
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