No One Is Above The Law

Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Today’s Morning Memo prompted some reader reflections:

TPM Reader DD:

Your piece today about the civic internalization about the rule of law (and even thought about people we’ve placed outside the law – though I think I might describe at least some of those instances more as we’ve placed them outside of or below personhood and justified the laws that we’ve made that way) made me think of how and when I might have internalized the idea that not only is no-one above the law, but that no one is below the law either.

I keep going back to this exchange in A Man For All Seasons:

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil the benefit of law?

More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes! I cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh, and when the last law was down, and the devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.

TPM Reader MM:

In eighth grade, which was the middle year of what was then called ‘junior high school,’ I had a terrific teacher for what was called “World Cultures I” (a name to suit the times, I suppose; it was essentially a history course). …

One day – long ago I forget what the formal lesson of that class had been – [he] turned to the class from the blackboard (upon which one wrote with chalk!) and said, “And no one is above the law.”

That was the first time I’d ever heard that said. It made a sufficient impression on me to be etched in memory through the intervening decades. I’ve heard it said and read it uncountable times since then, but for whatever reason it nearly brought a tear of remembrance to my eyes to read it in today’s Morning Memo.

Latest Editors' Blog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: