At some stage every government in the world has met the limits of its authority. At times the limit has been set by the Judges who uphold the Constitution of each country and at other times journalists have revealed that politicians have exceeded their authority. Proper authority is not possible without the law and information.
In the first week of his term President #Donald Trump signed an executive order banning migrants from seven “at risk” countries in the Middle East from entering the United States.
The ostensible reason for this order was the fear terrorists may have been amongst the refugees although there was no historical record of such incidents occurring within the United States,
Virtually immediately this order was the subject of challenge from the Press and also by lawyers. The journalists pointed out the inconsistencies of the arguments for such an order and the lawyers presented the case to various courts which resulted in the judges blocking the order.
Interestingly, in the course of a number of these court challenges the supporting evidence of the judges was comprised of statements by government officals reported in the press, beginning with the President himself, showing that the intention of the order was not precisely that stated when it was signed.
This case provides an example of the procedures contained in a functional Democracy to ensure that politicians do not exceed their authority..
Checks and balances
In the future the authors of textbooks for civics classes in school could well use the first weeks of the Trump Administration to provide a classic example of how the #checks and balances of the American system of government operate.
It is easy for a superficial person to think that being elected allows the President to put into effect each and every promise made in an election campaign. This is not the case as each politician, beginning with the highest Office in the land, is subject to the same laws and restraints that govern the behaviour of the common citizen.
In fact, the President is subject to even more limitations as his oath of office obliges him to defend the Constitution which is the rulebook for American government.
The judges of the court system and in particular those of the Supreme Court have the obligations of ensuring that the laws enacted by the Senate and Congress and the President’s executive orders conform to the limits of the country’s Magna Charta.
In this was they are the referees that guarantee the fair play in the running of the country.
This is not solely an American situation but one common with all modern democracies as was shown in Great Britain when the High Court directed Parliament to enact the result of last June’s Brexit vote. Such a situation happens regularly around the world and should not be cause for scandal or protest.
The other watchdogs of Democracy are probably the most uncomfortable of all, journalists. They are the ones who ensure that the citizens are provided with the information on which they can judge the politicians.
While some levels of secrecy are required in proper administration of the country journalists are those who ensure that important information is revealed, even and especially if that information is embarrassing for the government. We must not forget that embarrassing news often means something improper had happened and public officials are not exempt from the consequences of their actions.
So when we see Justices act against the government, or journalists report actions by the government we must recognize that this is part of what makes us free and what makes our country a Democracy. Their actions are the price of our freedom. In every way they are our guardians.
The next time we hear someone complain about them we would do worse than reminding them that there is only one word to describe a country without an independent Judiciary and a free press.That word is Dictatorship. #Price Of Freedom