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Steady Judgment

I’ve been reading Glenn Greenwald’s radicalizing new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, which advances the extremist thesis that all citizens should be subject to the rule of law. Of course, that’s just a redundant way of saying that we should have a rule of law.

In a striking example of America’s two-tiered justice system, Greenwald explains how the biggest telecom companies got retroactive legal immunity from Congress after knowingly and blatantly breaking federal law by providing the government access to its customers’ telecommunications without a warrant. That’s all interesting enough, but what I did not know was that judge Vaughn Walker ruled that AT&T obviously acted illegally. Walker resisted abandoning the rule of law for America’s largest companies and their political advocates. Judge Vaughn Walker is the same judge I praised as a modern Jeremy Bentham after his lucid and methodical decision overturning California’s prop 8.

Researching Walker for this post, I learned he’s now retired. This conservative judge, appointed by Reagan and Bush, Sr. and opposed by Nancy Pelosi for “perceived insensitivity to gays and the poor,” turned out to be a champion of the rule of law in a world where the political class has forgotten its meaning.

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