lady justice and a gavel

Rule of Law

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse in any country. If it were, the laws would lose their effect, because it can always be pretended.”

Thomas Jefferson

Introduction

The quote by Thomas Jefferson, that starts off this piece, is rooted in a more ancient principle of Roman law. Roman law states,”ignorantia juris non excusat” or loosely translated “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Here, Jefferson reminds us that the people are presumed to know the law, in order for the law to be effective. I would add, for the laws to be enforced properly.

Lawlessness and Fear

It has been about a year and a half since the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. I have experienced mixed emotions in the last year and a half. Other aspects of the attack on the Capitol have been addressed in my previous posts in January Epiphanies and on Consequences . A lot has been discovered in the course of the January 6th investigations.

A Pillar of Democracy Attacked

My thoughts have mingled with hope and fearfulness. Hope at the promise of renewed leadership and accountability in the United States. Why have I experienced fearfulness? Well, after the early facts and evidence surrounding the treasonous attacks on the Capitol were released in early 2021, I realized something. It was that what was really being assaulted that day, were the pillars of democracy itself. One of the pillars is the rule of law. This attack was built on extremism. It was an insurrection.

Yet, there are instigators and assailants out there who took part in the attack on the Capitol and claimed ignorance. They faked a misunderstanding of what they were doing or promoting or agitating. Now, if they feigned ignorance for jaywalking or some less violent act, I would see how their pleas might have a chance of having merit.

Terrorists and Dangerous Acts

But this? This is a blatant conspiracy to commit a variety of unlawful acts against our democracy. I have used my past legal training and my layperson’s resources. I did this to try and gain an understanding of the attack. I have skimmed through various charges against the perpetrators. Those I looked at are federal legal charges against the attackers. I have researched several sources and mediums. The attackers used violence and force, especially on Capitol law enforcement officers. They did so in the Capitol. The Capitol houses an important institution, Congress. Congress represents the People and it is a restricted building.

There was even an alleged attempt to harm the Vice President of the United States if accounts, footage and recordings are referred to. As of the date of writing this on July 14th, 2022, 838 Federal cases have been brought against individuals. The average age of individuals is 39-years-old. Individuals came from 46 states and the District of Columbia. 723 men and 115 women have been charged; https://extremism.gwu.edu/Capitol-Hill-Cases. In other words, this was a diverse operation conducted by a whole lot of people who really should have known the consequences of their actions.

Some offenders have already been sentenced to imprisonment. As an example, one such offender was sentenced to eight months of jail for going so far as to gain a shield of a Capitol police officer in the course of the riot. Some of the more serious offenders have yet to be sentenced. So far only 30% of the offenders have pleaded or have been found guilty. Others are at various stages of the legal process.

Militants?

Some people who have had cases brought against them, are part of paramilitary organizations. As of the time of writing, the numbers in this category of people are 102. One that is specifically mentioned recruits current and former military, law enforcement and first responders. Their actions appear pre-meditated because they may have trained for the insurrection. If any group knows the consequences of breaking the law, it would be this group. Yet, they marched forward that day believing that the then President of the United States was the supreme Law. No other institution had sway. No other institution of Democracy meant anything to them. Therefore, they do not believe in the separation of powers nor in the rule of law. Certain individuals had possession of weapons and explosives or they had been planted in the area that day.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is my opinion that every single instigator, perpetrator and offender of these treasonous acts must be punished to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of status, wealth or power.

If they are not, this pillar of democracy called the Rule of Law will appear weak. And in turn, this, our Democracy, will be depleted and eroded. The perpetrators claimed that they wanted to make America great again, but what they may succeed in doing instead, is to make America look weak.

We must not allow this to happen.

*I am aware that I am writing this as a layperson and expressing my own opinion. I do not represent that I am an expert in this context. Investigations by various departments are ongoing and circumstances and evidence may change. Statistics as of 7/14/2022.

lady justice and a gavel
An image showing that Justice is blind when it comes to the rule of law
Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA on Pexels.com

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