Jewish World Review March 1, 2004 / 8 Adar, 5764

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Law, order and the Left | The rule of law, it's what America is based on. We have very specific rules in this country designed to promote the general welfare and protect the citizenry, and if we don't obey those laws, we are punished. That's the way it's supposed to work.

Judge Roy Moore did not obey the law. He defied a federal court order to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments he had placed in the courthouse where he worked as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. So his fellow justices fired him, as they should have. Hundreds of newspapers across the country applauded that action on their editorial pages.

"His supporters don't see (Moore) as the scofflaw that he is," the Washington Post opined. "A man who feels free to ignore the constitutionally designated system by which law is interpreted in a democratic society."

The Orlando Sentinel put forth: "Mr. Moore's style is reminiscent of another popular Alabama politician — George Wallace. Just like Mr. Wallace, Mr. Moore has little respect for the Constitution or the rule of law."

And the San Antonio Express-News put it this way: "Moore's refusal to follow the law was clearly out of bounds."

Very noble, don't you think? Newspapers passionately standing up for the rule of law in the Ten Commandments case. Those editorial writers were certainly looking out for us.

But wait a minute. In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom has decided that California's law defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, a law that was voted on directly by the citizens of the Golden State in a proposition, is not worthy of being obeyed. Newsom took a hard look at that marriage law and not only gave it a thumbs down, he gave it a middle finger up.

And by issuing marriage licenses to gay couples himself, Mayor Newsom may have actually broken the law in addition to defying it. California Penal Code Section 115 prohibits the filing or recording of any false instrument in any public office. Uh-oh.

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So I fully expected to see those tough "rule of law" editorials reprised in The Washington Post, the Orlando Sentinel, and the San Antonio Express-News vis-a-vis Newsom. But, alas, they did not appear in those publications or in most other newspapers. Apparently, the law rules in Alabama but not in San Francisco.

This blatant hypocrisy has landed hard on the doorstep of the American Left, where Newsom is being hailed as a hero. Apparently, if you break laws that liberals don't like, it's OK, but you had better back off from those troubling Ten Commandments.

If Gavin Newsom really cared about the rule of law, he would have had the San Francisco police chief arrest him. The time-honored tradition of civil disobedience is an American strength. But you're supposed to pay a price for that action. Newsom has paid zero. He fought the law, and the law lost. California's Attorney General, Bill Lockyer and Governor Arnold are still hiding under their desks.

What kind of message does this send to Americans who don't like a variety of other laws? What if some California mayor started issuing handgun permits because he believed the Second Amendment was being trashed in the Golden State? You think the media, Governor Arnold and Attorney General Lockyer would do nothing? Yeah, and I'm Annie Oakley.

Either the law rules or it doesn't. And in California and much of the liberal press, it doesn't.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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