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Introduction to the Department of Justice Journal of Federal Law and Practice

There are few concepts more fundamental to our system of government than the rule of law. The safety, security, and prosperity we enjoy are rooted in the principle that we are all accountable under a set of clearly established laws that apply equally to everyone.

In the late seventeenth century, political philosopher John Locke advocated for a rule-of-law system in which government was "directed to no other end but the peace, safety, and public good of the people" and citizens were governed by "established standing laws, promulgated and known to the people, and not by extemporary decrees."1 The founders enshrined this principle in our constitutional system by creating "a government of laws, not of men."2 This commitment to the rule of law formed the foundation that has enabled our society to thrive.

In the United States, our rule-of-law system includes checks and balances to ensure that no one part of government becomes too powerful. It provides for due process and equality before the law. It promotes peace by providing a predictable mechanism for resolving disputes. And it affords us a sense of security by setting expectations for behavior, supplying a system to adjudicate violations, and establishing penalties to punish those who break the law. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower aptly put it, "The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law."3

At the Department of Justice (Department), promoting and protecting the rule of law is at the heart of our mission. As employees of the Department, we are called upon "[t]o enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all America ns."4 This directive places us on the front lines of the effort to promote and preserve the rule of law.

Given its centrality to our work, I am delighted that this issue of the Department of Justice Journal of Federal Law and Practice centers on the rule of law. This diverse set of articles explores different aspects of the rule of law and highlights ways in which Department employees work to promote the rule of law both domestically and abroad. For example, in Uncivil Disobedience: A Selfish Threat to the Rule of Law , United States Attorney John W. Huber and Criminal Chief David Backman from the District of Utah describe efforts the Department is taking to combat the emerging threat posed by the normalization of criminal behavior. In Rule of  Law in Time of War: The Trial of Saddam Hussein, United States Attorney David M. DeVillers from the Southern District of Ohio tells the compelling story of his work promoting the rule of law in Iraq through the Regime Crimes Liaison Office following the fall of Saddam Hussein. And in A Brief History on the Formation of Government Ethics and its Importance to the Rule of Law, Krystal Walker and Rebecca Mayer from the General Counsel's Office of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys discuss how important it is that those of us in government adhere to the highest ethical standards.

I want to thank all of the authors who contributed articles to this volume, as well as the editors who compiled it. At the Department of Justice, we have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of enforcing the law. I am grateful for the work the Department's more than 110,000 employees do every day to carry out that critical mission and to uphold the rule of law.


2 MASS. CONST. pt. 1, art. XXX (1780); JohniA.dams, Essay 7, in Novanglus; Or, a History of the Dispute with America from Its Origin, In 1754, to the Present Time (1775).

3 Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States, United States Law Day Address (May 1, 1958).

4 About DOJ, DEP'T OF JUSTICE, (last visited Nov. 19, 2019).

Updated January 20, 2021