This Post is a brief presentation of Epis’ book:The Meaning of Rule of Law.
This book reports studies that the writer did at the University of Cambridge in 2005/2006.
Nevertheless, this Post is useful for an understanting of: “what” the Principium of Rule of Law is; and “why” I affirmed that the European Union acted sometimes in violation of the principium of Rule of Law, looking a “new form” of Ancien Regime.
Even though the writer believes that:
1) a corpus of legal values should be written inside each Constitution;
2) and Judges, Lawyers and People, have the duty to defend those values against the tendency of the Power to go beyond them; …
… the study affirms that:
1) on one hand, the principium of Rule of Law (and/or Supremacy of Law) does not include a corpus of legal principles (and/or values) inside itself, as somebody affirmed;
2) on the other hand, the principium of Supremacy of Law means a more important legal value: the SUPREMACY of LAW ABOVE the POWER.
It was a Revolution, when Power believed to be above the Law.
It happened, exempli gratia, in France during the Ancien Regime.
Sovereigns, Nobles and whoever had some kind of Power, believed to be above the Law. They were used to act above Law.
Viola P. (1994) gave an example of this. He reported an anecdote happened between the Duke of Orleans and the King of France. When the Duke of Orleans said to the King: “Majesty, but it is illegal!”, the king answered: “No, It is legal because I will”.
The principium of Supremacy of the Law had the aim to end these kinds of Legal Systems. It states that everyone is under the Law.
Sovereigns, Nobles, Bureaucrats, Banks and Financial Powers, are all under the Law.
In other words, they have to comply with the Law. If they do not, they are an Arbitrary Power.
The latter is a Power that: either, it is not given by a Law; or, it is used without following the right procedures, which bind the exercise of that power.
As Power tends to go beyond its limitations, there is Arbitrary Power also inside our modern Legal Systems.
The principium of Supremacy of Law, hence, is still frequently violated. It is proved by some recent events happened inside the European Union and Institutions.
For example, when the President of Euro-group decided to exclude Greece, Varoufakis told him to be illegal (as the Duke of Orleans told to the King of France during the Ancien Regime). So, Varoufakis asked for a legal advice.
The lawyers and bureaucrats of the European Union answered him that the President of Euro-group could act as he/she wants! This is as the Euro-group does not exist for the Law!!
Hence, they argued: the Euro-group is above the Law!!!!!
In other words, the European Union answered like the King of France during the Ancien Regime.
But, if the Euro-group does not exist, the Euro-group is not above the Law.
Actually, all the Powers, Decisions and Acts, of the Euro-group are illegal, unlawful, illegitimate. This is told by the principium of Supremacy of Law.
On the contrary, the European Union is a New Ancien Regime. Nothing more! Nothing less!
So, how is it possible that the principium of Supremacy of Law is still violated, nowadays?
This is as the principium of Supremacy of Law was reduced by Power to be a simulacre a là Bauderillard (1981).
Power makes people forget its true meaning. It was done with a very easy game. A new set of meanings were put inside Supremacy of Law. All of them were pleasant, agreeable and fashionable, principles. But, they were also void principles as much as they were pleasant. At the end, people have forgotten the real meaning of Supremacy of Law.
Power started again to act above the Law a là Ancien Regime!!
Epis L., The Meaning of Rule of Law. Link to the e-book: The Meaning of Rule of Law – Book