The Corner

David Gregory and the Decline of the Rule of Law

Cynics easily predicted the District of Columbia’s decision not to prosecute David Gregory for his apparent (and clear) violation of D.C.’s high-capacity magazine ban. Cynics also realize that had the celebrity in question not been David Gregory but instead, say, Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, the D.C. prosecutors would have tripped all over themselves in a self-righteous effort to show that “no one is above the law.”

Of course prosecuting Mr. Gregory would have been sad and — on many levels — absurd, but so is the law under which he would have been prosecuted. In fact, if absurdity were a defense to prosecutions or other adverse legal actions, an enormous swathe of our regulatory state would be swept away.  

Can we even speak of the rule of law as a meaningful concept when we combine an explosive regulatory state with near-absolute prosecutorial discretion? As many others have noted, the regulatory state makes ever-more conduct — even benign conduct — unlawful, while absolute discretion grants the prosecutor the right of the King’s pardon. Overlay that legal reality with a stark red/blue divide, and the situation is ripe for the most base forms of political and personal favoritism. Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has been all over this issue, and I love his phrasing: “Due process when everything is a crime.”

The Left is fond of saying that through the common bonds and obligations of government “we’re all in this together.” Apparently, however, we’re not. 

And no one should be surprised.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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