Why Does Mexico Outrank U.S. in Access to Civil Justice?
October 14, 2010
(ChattahBox Op/Ed—-We as Americans love to boast that we live in the best country in the world. And that’s true in many respects. But we are fast losing ground with the rest of the developed nations. And if the extremist laissez-faire state’s rights tea party crowd have their way, we will quickly descend back into the dark ages of the 1900s, when social safety nets for the poor didn’t exist. And there was no such animal as a middle class. If you need convincing, you need look no further than the depressing results of the newly released World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index. The world-wide study examined how nations implement and enforce its laws for ordinary citizens. And more importantly, whether the poor have equal access to civil justice remedies that are available to the wealthy. How did the U.S. measure up? Not good. The exorbitant costs of lawyers and limited access to civil justice placed the greatest country on earth at number 20 out of all 35 countries surveyed. The countries of Mexico, Croatia and the Dominican Republic treat their poor and disenfranchised better than we do when it comes to civil justice. Welcome to third world America, where our most cherished institutions are becoming eroded, our infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes and everyone is armed to the teeth. Heck, if anything else, we sure know how to protect our Second Amendment rights.
When the poor and even the middle class can’t afford legal help to seek redress for basic civil disputes and access to institutions is blocked, the result is a disenchanted populace that may be tempted to take matters into their own hands.
You know, like Sharron Angle’s Second Amendment remedies.
Among the 11 wealthiest nations, the U.S. ranked ninth or below on six of the nine factors used, including 10th on absence of corruption and fundamental rights and dead last on access to civil justice.
When it comes to access, the United States was at the bottom of 11 developed nations. That’s right, dead last. Some third world countries did a better job at offering their citizens access to civil justice than we did.
Access to civil justice covers such factors, as knowing what remedies are available, affordable legal representation and the absence of barriers to the process for average people. Enforcement of the law should also be fair and impartial. The U.S. couldn’t manage to do any of these things well.
We didn’t fare much better in the fundamental rights category. The U.S. ranked 10th. Think about that. The developed countries of Australia, Sweden, Netherlands, Canada, Spain, Australia, South Korea, Japan and France provide better and more meaningful fundamental rights to their people than we do. Only Singapore scored worse than the U.S.
Our legal institutions are failing miserably at protecting basic fundamental rights. And justice may be blind, but it does no good when the majority of Americans can’t even make it past the front door.
The full study is available here. Read it and weep.