Monarch High, Monarchy, Bongs, & the Rule of Law

The Daily Camera asks its editorial advisory board about the controversy at Monarch High School in Colorado:

A controversy over school rules, leadership and parenting erupted at Monarch High after the Boulder Valley school board decision to reinstate a student [Dylan Quick] who had been removed from the student council. The board voted 5-2 to reverse a decision by the principal and supported by the superintendent to remove a senior as head boy of the Louisville school, after he had been caught with marijuana paraphernalia at the school. The student council constitution states that a head boy can’t be removed without first being impeached by the council, and the boy’s parents, including his father — the Adams County District Attorney — had complained that the rules were not followed. What do you think?

My response:

“Monarch High is not a monarchy!” protesters could have chanted. By superseding the Student Council Constitution, the principal resembles a monarch high on power. “The King is above the law,” England’s King James I proclaimed in 1598.

Instead of channeling a monarch, the principal should respect the rule of law, a pillar of prosperous and civil societies. This controversy is an opportunity for Monarch High students, teachers, and administrators to learn about the rule of law.

“In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other,” wrote Thomas Paine in Common Sense.

The rule of law is essential for prosperity — both maintaining and advancing ours, and to liberate people in poor countries to create their own.  Without the rule of law, “you can’t cooperate with people outside your immediate neighborhood or tribe, enforce contracts, transfer goods or money, achieve economies of scale, and can’t take advantage of the division of labor,” says Hernando De Soto, a world-renowned development economist.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress has eroded the rule of law by delegating power to the executive branch’s regulatory agencies. Their web of regulations can make anyone a criminal, as discussed in recent books such as Three Felonies a Day and One Nation, Under Arrest, and Go Directly to Jail.

If no one defends the rule of law at a local high school, there’s little hope for it nationally.

This article was printed in the Boulder Daily Camera on November 20, 2010.

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