Justice Thomas on the Role of the Courts and Preventing Mob Rule

May 18th, 2011

The Augusta Chronicle excerpts some of Justice Thomas’ quotes from his address before the American Bar Association.

This quote stuck out:

“We are given limited authority to judge our fellow citizens, and we are given that by our fellow citizens. They ask us them to keep from what? Arming themselves and fighting each other. Becoming lawless. We become that important point in a civil society that keeps people from each other’s throats. We are the ones who are called upon to solve disputes in the past that have led to gunfights, wars, feuds. But we have also failed and we have rendered decisions that have led to wars, gunfights and feuds. That’s when we have failed.”

Courts are a necessary element of civil society. Without courts, and neutral arbitrators of disputes, civil society would fade, and mob rule would emerge.