In assessing democracy, Beetham gives a list of violations of legal hierarchy. It’s very concerning how many of these are happening by the Trump administration. I have highlighted what Trump is doing is red and what he is trying or has threatened to do in orange. I think its worthy to also note what BLM is trying to address in blue. Blue and red, and blue and orange are not mutually exclusive.

“Of generic modes of subversion, the following are among the most typical:

inadequacies in the judicial process of rights protection, such as insufficient competence or independence of the courts, or systematic obstacles to individual appeal and redress;

use of emergency powers or anti-terror legislation, often against opposition groups, to bypass normal judicial safeguards; and

arbitrary or oppressive policing, including intimidation of protesters, detention without charge, maltreatment in detention, discriminatory treatment of particular groups, collusion with paramilitary forces;

systematic exclusion of certain groups from rights protection — for example, unpopular or vulnerable minorities, immigrants and asylum seekers, or those defined as enemies or opponents of the government outside the national territory.

Subversions of specific rights include:

life and security of the person: incidence of physical assault and murder by other civilians such as to make the public space an unsafe area, whether generally or for specific groups;

unacceptable levels of physical abuse and deaths in custody, whether from poor prison conditions, self-harming, or at the hands of fellow inmates or prison wardens (Winston Churchill’s second-most famous statement about democracy is worth noting here — how prisoners are treated is a good litmus test of democracy’s quality);

freedom of expression: inadequate pluralism in media ownership, views, and public information, whether through state or private oligopoly; defamation laws and the cost of defending them being used to restrict legitimate comment of public officials or private corporations; incidence of official and unofficial harassment of journalists;

freedom of association and assembly: exclusionary rules on registration of voluntary associations, trade unions, or political parties; discriminatory application of registration requirements; loss of independence of voluntary associations through government co-optation or contracts; undue obstacles to public assembly, such as unrealistic timescales for notification, inappropriate locations, police harassment of protesters; and

freedom of information (supposing there is such a legal right in the first place): unduly restrictive “official secrets” legislation, including absence of public-interest defense of “whistle-blowers”; excessive costs of gaining access to legally permitted information.”

By 2014, if an uninsured American citizen with enough income refuses to obtain health insurance, the person has a choice to resign from obtaining health insurance by paying a penalty; or, how the Supreme Court majority puts it, a tax.

But this is not the escape hatch I was referring. Of the three arguments of those defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called Obama-care, (1. Inactivity can be regulated under the Commerce Clause, 2. the Necessary and Proper Clause justifies the state interest enacting an individual mandate, 3. failure to obtain health care can be subjected to a penalty) the third argument won out, which is really considered a tax no matter how Congress wished to word it, according to the Court. It denounced argument 1 unconstitutional, which means the government cannot make you buy broccoli and Justice Roberts found no sufficient cause for Obama-care to be necessary and therefore proper. That means, among other things, the individual mandate can still be struck down by the legislature, not with 60 votes in the Senate, but with 50 votes instead. I consider it wise for Roberts to devolve the decision of whether or not the individual mandate is moral to officials who are closer to the people and where the people retain their authority and their freedom to punish their respective representatives. To quote Roberts majority opinion:

“Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” (National 6)

This libertarian interpretation (albeit a minority variation in today’s libertarian America) of judicial power hands ultimate responsibility over to the polis. But again, this is not the escape hatch i am referring. With all the complex legal jargon and maneuvering, Justice Roberts simply has handed the ethical decision-making on this particular matter away from the judicial branch, even though arguments 1 and 2 has been deemed illegal. Obama-care has been deemed legal. That is all. I wonder if Roberts was seen washing his hands excessively after he read his majority opinion aloud.

To my knowledge, in 2015, argument 3 (the tax penalty in Obama-care) can still be challenged in court. Justice Roberts might have to get his hands dirty once again.


Armed with a bag of skittles and ice tea, a child shot dead in a neighborhood by a Neighborhood Watch leader was shielded by Florida’s  “Stand Your Ground” law. Basically, the law states that you can stand you ground and even use deadly force to protect yourself. Sounds legit at first glance but anyone with an imagination can perceive complications. If you are against such laws understanding its interpretation, or rather, the interpretation of law itself is essential. The same morning the day this post is published, I happen to hear a co-author of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law making a point that the law he helped write does not say anything about following and confronting a person who is a perceived threat. This alone should have warranted the arrest of Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Apart from that illuminating tidbit of information, it can be seen how the law can easily be corrupted. Look at these other cases where “Stand Your Ground” laws have protected some very shady people from “protecting” themselves.

This is not to absolve any incidence where theft was part of the circumstance but think of the moral high ground: does a car warrant the death of a person? You will also notice that in all of these incidences (many do not involve theft) it has involved the death of a young person, some even mere children.

There should be some form of “Stand Your Ground” laws. I would not like to find myself in a position to have to defend myself but hesitate simply because I have to take into account of some unrealistic consideration that some authors of SYG laws try to prevent. Example: you have to run to a place of safety first to use deadly force, which is what some laws in America require. But what if I’m trying to run from somebody who is much faster and stronger than I? But at the same time I should not have the liberty to just shoot random people who happen to step on my lawn and then claim self-defense, as in the shooting of 15 year old Brandon Robinson.