The Constitution is our pact of civilized behavior. From it we’ve derived a system of institutionalized justice, which we call our criminal justice system. It’s intended to include checks and balances to protect defendants from biases and ensure fair adjudication of their charges. Those safeguards include the following:

* a presumption of innocence

* a right to due process

* a right to legal defense

* a right to a trial by one’s peers

* a right to trial before an impartial judge

Given our presumption of innocence, absolute justice can’t be guaranteed because conviction depends on the presence of evidence. Instead, we have agreed to accept equal treatment under the law. We agree to abide by the law in exchange for a system that treats us equally and is administered by officials who swear an oath to defend our constitutional protections.

Then Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, and Merrick Garland came along as the country’s top law enforcement officials and flushed it all. Under them, the application of justice has become decidedly unequal. Perfection was never possible, but now the claim of equal treatment has become laughable. The foundation of our legal system is being eaten away by government termites — whose lust for power far exceeds their wisdom to wield it.

The presumption of innocence seems like a quaint idea from the past. Was New York attorney general Letitia James presuming innocence when she made a campaign promise to initiate a criminal investigation of Donald Trump before she even entered office or saw any evidence of wrongdoing? Or was she promising to operate her office using the Beria methodology? Clearly, she had her target and was promising to find the crime. Yet she faces no accountability for this flagrant violation of her oath.

Was due process followed when the FBI destroyed evidence of Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified documents — at Clinton’s request? Did the FBI have a legal predicate when it launched an investigation of an incoming president — based on fabricated evidence provided by his political opponent? How about when they raided the homes of reporters — with armed agents — to recover Ashley Biden’s diary? Had a crime even been committed?

Is our right to competent legal representation being undermined when attorneys face disbarment for taking legal actions challenging election practices? Will this trend prevent conservative defendants from hiring competent lawyers in the future — when those lawyers fear cancellation for representing an unfavored client?

Was a conservative from Montana tried by a jury of his peers — when that jury comprised mostly Democrats from Washington, D.C.? Was Derek Chauvin — a police officer accused of murdering a black man — tried by an impartial jury when one of his “peers” was a Black Lives Matter–supporter?

Was General Michael Flynn given an impartial judge for his trial? Was Judge Emmet Sullivan being impartial when he refused to let the DoJ drop charges, and instead appointed his own counsel to argue the case before him — making himself both the judge and prosecutor? How was he ensuring that General Flynn would receive fair or equal treatment with such an arrangement?

When the core principles of our criminal justice system are no longer honored, the citizens of a self-governed country will judge the pact of civilized behavior to be breached. When they no longer believe that they’ll be treated according to those principles, they’ll decide that the pact no longer applies to them, either.

What comes next? Will citizens embrace a system in which guilt or innocence is a function of their beliefs instead of their actions? Or will Americans avoid the system entirely? How much interaction will Americans seek with a system they no longer trust? Will they report crimes to a justice system that could attack them at any time — regardless of whether they have broken any laws? Will they voluntarily provide testimony or evidence? Or will they avoid all contact with law enforcement officials?

Our criminal justice system cannot function without the support of the governed — and it is already failing. We’re seeing an alarming rise in crime across the country. Are we destined to a future of “survival of the fittest,” where ruthless criminals consolidate power to prey on the weak — like some semi-civilized banana republic? Not necessarily.

We are not a country of sheep. We are descendants of fiercely independent and self-reliant pioneers. Many Americans still retain those attributes. We may not be destined for a communist police state or a “kill or be killed” anarchy. Our old west may be a better predictor of where justice in America is headed.

As hundreds of thousands of Americans migrated into the western wilderness, they found themselves outside the protections of civilization. Our ancestors went to a land with no criminal justice system. Conversely, we inherited a land with a criminal justice system that is being destroyed before our eyes. Our situations are becoming similar — for very different reasons.

In the old west, criminals had easy prey — and they capitalized on it. Rape, robbery, and murder were common. But that chaos was unacceptable to the settlers who only wanted free and productive lives for their families. The farmers, ranchers, and miners formed law enforcement committees — many of which were little more than vigilante mobs. Some even called themselves vigilantes — which is Spanish for “watchmen guards.” It was not considered a pejorative at that time.

But the committees operated without the infrastructure of institutional criminal justice. There were no safeguards and few resources for incarceration or rehabilitation. The committees functioned as the police, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner — all in one untrained body with no uniform standards. The “justice” administered was rapid and harsh. A defendant could go from apprehension to execution in a matter of minutes. Lynchings were common — as were mistakes.

After the formation of vigilante committees, criminals faced substantial risks, and some semblance of order was achieved — with the downside that many innocents were falsely punished. The settlers defaulted to brutal and error prone “justice” because no alternative was present.

I’m not advocating vigilante justice. I’m predicting that it’s a natural consequence of human nature if our current leadership destroys the last vestiges of the “equal justice under the law” that we were promised. When the system no longer protects citizens, they will find ways to protect themselves. Does the rapid increase in gun ownership indicate that citizens are preparing for this eventuality? Americans bought 20 million firearms last year — the second highest year in history. That can’t be taken as an endorsement of our criminal justice system.

Leftists seem determined to corrupt our criminal justice system — changing it into their political enforcement service. Once the system’s credibility is shattered (and 53 precent think it already is), will the victim of a crime report it to the police — or take matters into his own hands? If he chooses to exact vigilante justice, will his neighbors report him, or help him — recognizing that they may need similar “help” in the future?

As Merrick Garland–, Christopher Wray–, and George Soros–sponsored prosecutors continue to dismantle our criminal justice system, they should keep our past in mind. When legal criminal justice fails, vigilante justice may replace it.

John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho. He has written for American Thinker and American Free News Network. He can be followed on Facebook or reached at [email protected].


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