Freedom and the Rule of Law

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It codifies the core values of the people. Courts have the responsibility to interpret the Constitution's meaning, as well as the meaning of any laws passed by Congress. The Federalist 78 states further that, if any law passed by Congress conflicts with the Constitution, "the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.

Freedom of expression of judges and prosecutors: UNHRC report - Rule of Law

It only supposed that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental. The American democratic system is not always based upon simple majority rule.

There are certain principles that are so important to the nation that the majority has agreed not to interfere in these areas. For instance, the Bill of Rights was passed because concepts such as freedom of religion, speech, equal treatment, and due process of law were deemed so important that, barring a Constitutional Amendment, not even a majority should be allowed to change them.

The Decline of the Rule of Law

In Hong Kong, they are still entirely normal. A law allowing for extradition to China could change that.

It would have a chilling effect on free speech and protest, which is almost certainly the idea. The government of China practises widespread censorship, but in most cases it does not have to. Each act of censorship, accompanied by punishment or the threat of it, gives birth to 10, acts of self-censorship.

The rule of law, democracy and economic freedom

In recent years, legislators who declined to take an oath of office that included a loyalty pledge to China have not been seated, and candidates favouring independence from China have not been allowed to run. That put a piece of Hong Kong under full Chinese control; Chinese authorities later used that jurisdiction to arrest a property developer who happened to be in the station.


That is a prelude of what could happen, on a far larger scale, if the extradition law is passed. Ottawa and our allies should let Beijing know that the people of Hong Kong, who are still part of the free world, are not forgotten, and do not stand alone. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

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About Ted Abram

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