William Hallowell: Politicians must keep out of the judicial process


By William Hallowell.

Biden has waded in on the Rittenhouse trial. But Politicians must keep out of the judicial process – his decision to involve himself is totally irresponsible, given the emotion and political and social context behind the trial. 

In a democracy, the judiciary must be independent from the Government and political influence. If governments exert their influence over the way the justice system is run, it leaves open the opportunity for devastating authoritarianism: state persecutions and internment of minorities and opponents – be it rival candidates, writers or journalists – corruption and other anti-democratic activity often found in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany. 

It is hard not to be so critical of the man responsible for the humanitarian crisis that ensued in Afghanistan as NATO withdrew its forces.

That is why, in a functioning democracy, politicians must keep away from judicial affairs. Much like is it accepted that in a democracy, the State and the Church are not intertwined, neither should the State and the Judiciary. 

America has long been portrayed as the land of the free, of liberty, and as a beacon of democracy (though, this image is increasingly being challenged as the world has watched the US descend into the chaos).

Biden has already shown he is inept and irresponsible. It is hard not to be so critical of the man responsible for the humanitarian crisis that ensued in Afghanistan as NATO withdrew its forces, and that continues now. What was questionable at the time, however, was how much worse he could be, and how much further he could go to prove his incapacity to govern responsibly.

The President’s reaction to Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial was so bold with audacity, the reaction in itself was totally Trump-esque. Before the election, it seemed common sentiment from the left that ‘only Trump could be such an authoritarian’. ‘Only Trump would behave like this’. ‘Only Trump would have said this’. Well, if anything separated the governments of Trump and Biden before, little does now. 

Following the jury’s deliberation, the President released a statement which read:  

“While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken.”

His words are deeply problematic because they will inevitably incite contempt for the judicial process that must function independently from the State in a democracy. When the people in power display doubt in, or disdain for, a jury’s deliberations – no less, that of such a divisive and controversial case – it is dangerous because political leaders have influence over their people. The storming of the Capitol speaks for itself on the matter. 

Biden’s statement also read:

“I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law.  Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.”

However, quite simply, Biden cannot speak of unity, peace and rule of law – as well as displaying disapproval of civil unrest – when he has blatantly shown contempt, ‘anger’ and disapproval for the rule of law and independent course of the judicial process.

The President’s words therefore, are unsurprisingly contradictory… and concerning. 

What is also deeply concerning is the President playing into the hands of those who have labelled Rittenhouse a “white supremacist”.

What is also deeply concerning is the President playing into the hands of those who have labelled Rittenhouse a “white supremacist”.

Bearing in mind that those the defendant shot and killed were all white, it is hard to see how it can be justified that he is the far-right, “white supremacist” that he has been portrayed as. Inevitably, this choice of strong and emotive language – no less, by the President – is bound to further America’s racial divisions, and the instability they have caused.

The sheer audacity of the President of the United States, the supposed ‘leader of the free world’, to involve himself such a high-profile and divisive trial, with so much political and social context behind it, is unfathomable and outrageous.

From both sides of the argument, Rittenhouse’s verdict was going to be seen as a ‘defining moment’ for America – and both sides weaponised the argument of having a well-functioning justice system, whether he was found guilty or not. 

Given the intensified political and social context in America over the last two years, with so much civil unrest as a result of race relations sparked by the death of George Floyd, it was totally irresponsible for the President to wade in on the judicial process. It is evitable, sadly, that Rittenhouse’s ‘not guilty’ verdict will spark violence and further unrest. This is assuredly foreseeable for the United States, given the criminality, violence and unrest that has been caused over the last two years in the name of ‘justice’, ‘equality’ and ‘anti-racism’. 

Therefore, for Biden to involve himself in matters for the judiciary, is wholly inappropriate, both out of principle because of his position, and because of the likely consequences of his words that will ensure further civil unrest and political instability. 

For more from William Hallowell please follow him on Twitter.

© 2021 William Hallwell


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