Equality before the law
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws, with no individual or group having special legal privileges. No one is exempt or included more than another. Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law."
The phrase "Equality before the law" is the motto of the state of Nebraska and appears on its state seal.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equality_before_the_law
------------------------------------------------------------------Equal justice under law
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The front of the Supreme Court Building, including the West Pediment."Equal justice under law" is a phrase engraved on the front of the United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. This phrase was apparently first written in 1915 by the architectural firm that designed the building. The phrase appears above the entrance to the courtroom of Waterbury City Hall, for which Cass Gilbert was the architect; Gilbert later designed the Supreme Court building, completed in 1932. The phrase is attributed in Waterbury City Hall to "C. Gilbert". Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes subsequently approved this inscription for the Supreme Court, as did the United States Supreme Court Building Commission which Hughes chaired.
The words "Equal Justice Under Law" apparently paraphrase an earlier expression coined by Chief Justice Melville Fuller. In the case of Caldwell v. Texas in 1891, Fuller wrote about the Fourteenth Amendment as follows:
By the Fourteenth Amendment the powers of the States in dealing with crime within their borders are not limited, but no State can deprive particular persons or classes of persons of equal and impartial justice under the law.
Neither this entire sentence, nor even the last seven words, would have fit on a pediment or architrave of the U.S. Supreme Court building, which explains why the architects would have wanted to shorten them. In the years since Fuller wrote these words, the Supreme Court has decided that the Fourteenth Amendment, and especially its Due Process Clause, do limit the powers of the states in dealing with crime.
 The Funeral Oration of Pericles
Bust of Pericles, Roman copy after a Greek original from ca. 431 BC The term "equal justice" dates back at least to the dawn of western civilization. In his funeral oration of 431 BC, the Athenian leader Pericles discussed this concept.
Thus, Chief Justice Fuller was by no means writing on a clean slate when he referred to "equal and impartial justice under the law" in Caldwell v. Texas. There are several different English translations of the relevant passage in Pericles' funeral oration, three of which are quoted below.
Here is Pericles discussing "equal justice" according to the English translation by Richard Crawley in 1874: Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighbouring states; we are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration favours the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity of his condition.
Here is Pericles discussing "equal justice" according to the English translation by Benjamin Jowett in 1881:
Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbours, but are an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while the law secures equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognised; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty a bar, but a man may benefit his country whatever be the obscurity of his condition.
And here is Pericles discussing "equal justice" according to the English translation by Rex Warner in 1954:
Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. Our government does not copy our neighbors', but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition.
The funeral oration by Pericles was published in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, of which there are several other English translations.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_justice_under_law
Now, while the radical egalitarianism of the socialists and pseudo-socialist fascist-corporatists has undermined our very constitution and the rights an liberties enshrined therein, equal justice before the law is actually a necessary bulwark against the estblishment of hereditary and institutionalized privilege in the United States IMO.
I open it up to debate, though.
Is there really "equality under/before the law" or "equal justice under law" in the United States nowadays? Why or why not?
Should there be?
be done to restore the vitality of that concept within our institutions, government, laws, judiciary etc.?
This is a serious philosophical question, please check all (over-the-top) sarcasm and cynicism (with a small "c") at the door.