Sample Law Paper on American Justice’s Second Tier

Article title: With liberty and justice for some: How the law is used to destroy equality and
protect the powerful
Author: Glenn Greenwald


Fallacies are normally regarded as faulty or invalid arguments meant to attract the
attention of an individual. Although they are psychologically persuasive, fallacies can be
incorrect when subjected to scrutiny and examination. Fallacies within precincts of justice
system cause extensive implications as far as enlightening of the law is concerned.
Application of fallacies, especially in legal arguments, can be misleading and irrelevant. The
law tends to accommodate various arguments premised on the comprehensive inquiry into
factual issues, justice demands, and rational debate on legal matters. Using the work of Glenn
Greenwald, ‘With liberty and justice for some: How the law is used to destroy equality and
protect the powerful,’ as a case study, the essay shall comprehensively analyze the American
justice’s second tier with much inclination on ad hominem fallacy.
American Justice’s Second Tier and Ad Hominem Fallacy
The current American justice system exhibits a greater deal of false attribution fallacy. The
fallacy of false attribution exists in a situation where an advocate appeals to the unqualified,

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fabricated, irrelevant, biased, or unavailable source of information. According to Greenwald
(223), the outcomes of the current American justice system are normally determined by an
individual’s status, power, and wealth rather than premising on the law per se. “And for these
days, the people advocating for elite immunity are often the same ones who emphatically
insist upon rigid, unyielding enforcement of the rules for the rest of us. Indeed, when it comes
to crime and punishment, the trends for powerful and ordinary Americans have been heading
in completely divergent directions. The American prisons are currently hosting a significant
number of innocent individuals, but because of their ethnicity, color, and social status, they
were apprehended. Greenwald (223) noted that the American prison system has
approximately 25% of prisoners across the globe. As of 2008, there were more than 2.2
prisoners in the local jails as well as the state and federal prisons. It illustrates the existence of
ad hominem fallacy, where a false attribution is subjected to an innocent person in the court
of law.
Conservative politicians tend to make appeals to law and order while camouflaging
behind seemingly reasonable justifications, thus committing the fallacy of irrelevant
attribution. The American criminal justice policy, according to Greenwald (225), has
exhibited a unidirectional trend where more imprisonments, prosecutions, and convictions
continue to increase despite prosperity and economic hardships, democratic and republican
rule, peace/war and rising/falling crime. The justice system and legislators have failed to
avail sufficient reason in support of their conclusions. The growth in prison populations is not
a response to national circumstances. What it represents, rather, is a deliberate choice by the
political class to lock up more and more people for longer periods and ever more trivial
offenses. Ad hominem legal arguments are common within the precincts of public discourse
because they often used by politicians to compromise the credibility of their rivals. They
normally attack the character of their opponents instead of providing a logical justification to

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prove their involvement in criminal activities or certain social vices. Unraveling of ad
hominem legitimacy requires an individual to take into consideration various factors of
argumentative discourse such as participants in the discussion, context, the phase of
argumentation process, and situation, among others.
The American justice system has been addressing issues based on unjustified hyped
on consequences and thus committing the fallacy of overrated effect. It occurs where P’s
reliability is affected by A, especially when performing F. However, the effect is usually
minimal relative to the claim’s premise. For instance, America’s penal state has over-
emphasized and exaggerated the war on drugs as the main cause of street crimes. The federal
government reacted by implemented new laws and draconian minimum sentence
requirements while the FBI assumed a large role in addressing the drug problem. “Most
significant for the growth of America’s penal state was the federal government’s increased
emphasis on the ‘war on drugs’” (228). The resulted effect of these overrated effects was the
execution of law and order extremism, which further increased the prison population. The
justice system, through the efforts of Clinton’s presidency, transitioned from GOP, attracts
strategy to bipartisan policy approach. The overrated effect of drugs on street crime rate
foresaw the implementation of a series of policies meant to establish longer prison sentences,
severe criminal punishments, and mandatory sentencing requirements. Such policies had
implications on the prison population as well as the justice system itself.
There are situations in which the American justice system and corridors of power
commit the fallacy of irrelevant person. Advocates and judges tend to derive their conclusion
based on a person’s reliability. A claim can be falsified based on counter-argument regarding
an individual’s reliability. An advocate can deduce that a claim made by person X is subject
to biasness because of their position or expertise as far as the matter in court is under
discussion. The fallacy of irrelevant person shows why people who committed serious

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felonies such as Mark Felt were never incarcerated. “The man who most popularized the no-
mercy mentality-Richard Reagan- not only spared from prison Mark Felt, an FBI official
convicted of illegally spying on Americans, but himself presided over a criminal effort to fund
Nicaraguan terrorist.”(232). It is a clear demonstration of a two-tier justice where a prison is
a form of punishment for different transgressions and incarceration of people who pose no or
sublet danger to society. Bill Clinton, who was a strict supporter of the tough-on-crime
crusade, changed his mindset immediately after assuming the presidency. Clinton transitioned
into bipartisan orthodoxy to avoid conducting investigations into previous political crimes.
For instance, George W. Bush failed to convict six conspirators who had pleaded guilty of
their crimes. Historically, American law has illustrated fallacious justifications based on how
relevant an individual his beyond the eyes of the justice system.
The analysis of Greenwald’s article illustrates the existence of insufficient degree
fallacy, where the target argument is meant to falsify or counter-attack a claim. It is a special
factor applicable in ignoratio elanchi. According to Greenwald (235), the American approach
to justice and crime denies judges the capacity to adjust or regulate sentences and
incarceration requirements, especially when the circumstances merit. “…these laws force the
courts to subject all convicted defendants to unyielding harshness, even when doing so
produces gross injustice” (235). Individuals have served decades of years because of petty
drug offenses. The specific and harsh measures meant to address crimes have resulted in a
generalized ruthless perspective that taints the entirely legal system. The concept of leniency
and mercy is no longer in existence. Weakness, liberalism and coddling ideologies have
replaced leniency and mercy. People of color, the poor, and the marginalized section of the
society are less likely to obtain justice within the courts of law because of the fallacy of
insufficient degree. The justice system treats them as a threat, and hence they are subjected to

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unfair sentencing requirements, unlike the wealthy and politicians who are subtly never
acquitted of their crimes.
There are situations in which an appeal to pity or argument ad misericordiam
becomes justifiable not to acquit the offender. The audience is often asked or requested to
accept judgment based on the speaker’s pitiful situation. Greenwald (237) provides a
narrative situation where Jessica Hall was convicted of throwing a ‘missile’ to a vehicle with
occupants. The argument was that the physical object, in this case, a McDonald’s cup, could
be a missile. She was sentenced to two years in prison. However, an outcry from the public
and the local media coerced the judgment to suspend the sentence after Hall had served for
seven weeks. “I think that this is way too much of a punishment for her actions. This is just
to me absolutely ridiculous” Fowle said. Hall had no prior issues of misconduct. Her
sentence was reviewed and adjusted based on argument ad misericordiam. The court took a
context, facts, and circumstances that forced Hall Jessica to respond similarly.
The analysis of Glenn Greenwald’s work illustrates that ad hominem fallacy is at
work in the emergence and details of a functioning two-tier system of justice in America.
False attributions based on ethnicity, colour, and social status have caused a steady increase
in the number of persons incarcerated in the American prison system. Key problems such as
the inability of the court to imprison wealthy and powerful people and politicians are all
subject to ad hominem fallacy exercised by the American system.

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Work Cited

Greenwald, Glenn. With liberty and justice for some: How the law is used to destroy equality
and protect the powerful. Metropolitan Books, 2011.