≡ Menu

Seasoned Wisdom

Here’s a letter to the Washington Times:

Prominent Republicans, including Sen. John McCain and Rep. Peter King, want to deny Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights by holding him as an enemy combatant (“Republicans want Boston bombing suspect treated as enemy combatant, sparking Miranda debate,” April 21).

Beware. As dangerous and evil as Mr. Tsarnaev might be, he could never pose as great a threat to the republic as that which is posed by government officials impulsively circumventing well-established Constitutional procedures in the name of public safety.

The late Robert Bork – a conservative icon – was frequently likened to Sir Thomas More as depicted in Robert Bolt’s 1960 play, A Man for All Seasons. Conservatives, therefore, should pay special heed to More’s insistence on the importance of the rule of law – an insistence famously portrayed in a scene in which More explains to his son-in-law (Will Roper) why he, More, as Chancellor of England, will not use arbitrary measures to subdue the traitorous Richard Rich:

“ROPER: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
“MORE: Yes!  What would you do?  Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
“ROPER: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
“MORE: Oh?  And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?  This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s!  And if you cut them down (and you’re just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
“Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030