William Hubbard Debates at the Oxford Union
William C. Hubbard of Nelson Mullins recently participated in a debate at the Oxford Union on the motion “This House believes that modern (Western) democracy no longer supports the rule of law.”
Mr. Hubbard was assigned to argue in favor of the motion. He pointed out to the audience that the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index shows rising authoritarianism even in Western democracies. He reflected on issues in the U.S. justice system that helped support his argument, including the lack of access to effective civil justice for the poor and those of moderate means as well as disparities in the criminal justice system such as unequal fines, forfeitures, and bail; and collateral consequences of criminal convictions.
Additionally, he pointed out that due to voting issues—including an ineffective response to Russian interference, new voter identification requirements, purging of voter rolls, political gerrymandering, and the abrogation of key parts of the Voting Rights Act—voters have become marginalized.
Finally, he argued that the education system, in particular the lack of civics education, is compounding the issue. He cited statistics which revealed that only 23 percent of Americans can name all three branches of the government, and one in six Americans believe it would be good if the country were governed by the military.
He concluded by reflecting on Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s Henry J. Friendly acceptance speech, noting that democracy depends on a consensus based on civil discourse and how today’s society is not helping our democracy mature.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Neil M. Gorsuch was in attendance and questioned the debaters after the initial round of arguments.
Learn more about the Oxford Union.
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