“Playing with the law, democracies risk losing their soul”

Demonstration in front of the Supreme Court in Warsaw (Pologone), in support of Judge Igor Tuleya, critic of the government's judicial reforms, on June 8.

Pnobody can create icons like the Americans. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, of course, a prominent public figure in her country. Hollywood had even dedicated a film to him, selected for the Oscars, in 2019, a documentary on his career, RBG. But what country other than the United States would expose the coffin of a judge for three days on the catafalque of Lincoln, in the heart of the institutions of the federal capital, so that its compatriots can pay homage to her?

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In the United States, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg electrifies the presidential campaign

If the disappearance, on September 18, at the age of 87, of the Supreme Court judge – small and frail in appearance, immense and powerful in the legal legacy she left – arouses such an echo among Americans, it is no It’s not just because it ignites an already fairly explosive end of the electoral campaign.

This is in part, no doubt, because women and minorities owe so much to the tenacity of this formidable jurist, who never ceased to fight, and with even more energy when her opinion was found in the minority, for equal rights. But it is above all because she and the constancy of her fight embodied what qualifies democracy in the most indisputable way, at a time of troubling fragility: the rule of law.

Gray area

At a time of great blurring of political benchmarks, respect for the rule of law has become the ultimate criterion of a true democratic regime. In XXIe century, there are hardly any leaders, no matter how autocratic, who cannot boast of being elected, or even re-elected, or of their popular legitimacy. Demanding “free and fair” elections, the foundation of democracy in the days of the Soviet bloc and one-party regimes, was easy.

Today, there are fifty shades of “free” elections. Beyond the caricature of Turkmenistan, or even Belarus where opposition candidates have been imprisoned and the results massively falsified, has emerged a whole gray area, where opposition candidates do not really have access to the public television, where the media are not completely independent, where the voters are not all registered, where some polling stations are not accessible, where party funding is not clearly regulated … This gray area does not exist. not only in faraway places. It is also found in Europe, and the United States.

This Supreme Court, on which Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat, is today a bulwark of democracy

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