Americans Have Less Access to Justice than Botswanans … And Are More Abused By Police than Kazakhstanis

U.S. Scores Towards the Bottom of All North American and Western European Nations

Justice is a key value for Americans.

After all, one of our key mottoes is:

“Liberty and justice for all”.

But the World Justice Project – a bipartisan, independent group with honorary chairs including Supreme Court Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsberg and O’Connor – just released a report saying that Americans have less access to justice than most wealthy countries …  and many developing nations.

The group’s “World Justice Index” ranks countries’ faithfulness to the rule of law based upon 9 factors (we’re paraphrasing so that they’re easier to  understand):

1. Whether there are checks and balances on the power of government officials

2. Absence of corruption

3. Order and security

4. Due process, freedom of speech and other fundamental rights,

5. Transparency of government operation

6. Due process in regulatory enforcement

7.  Access to civil justice

8. Access to criminal justice

9. Availability of informal dispute resolution systems

Among high-income countries, the U.S. ranked near the bottom in access to civil justice … behind Estonia, United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic and other countries:

For example, Germans sue equally whether they are rich or poor  … but in America, only the wealthy have the resources to protect rights using the court system:

Indeed, the report ranks developing countries such as Botswana and the former Soviet nation of Georgia as having more access to the civil justice system than the U.S.

Americans have experienced more unfair physical abuse by  police than in Kazahkstan, Russia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Romania and other countries:

When compared to other countries in North America and Western Europe, the U.S. ranked third to last in checks and balances on the power of government officials and absence of corruption, and second to last in protection of due process, freedom of speech and other fundamental rights, access to civil justice, and access to criminal justice:

The World Justice Project is not alone in this assessment.

As we pointed out in July:

Economic historian Niall Ferguson notes:

The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Index and, in particular, the Executive Opinion Survey on which it’s partly based … includes 15 measures of the rule of law, ranging from the protection of private property rights to the policing of corruption and the control of organised crime.

It’s an astonishing yet scarcely acknowledged fact that on no fewer than 15 out of 15, the United States now fares markedly worse than Hong Kong. In the Heritage Foundation’s Freedom Index, too, the U.S. ranks 21st in the world in terms of freedom from corruption, a considerable distance behind Hong Kong and Singapore.  [Transparency International puts the U.S. at 24th.]

Perhaps the most compelling evidence of all comes from the World Bank’s Indicators on World Governance, which suggest that, since 1996, the United States has suffered a decline in the quality of its governance in three different dimensions: government effectiveness, regulatory quality and the control of corruption.

Compared with Germany or Hong Kong, the U.S. is manifestly slipping behind.

Indeed – as we’ve extensively documented – the rule of law is now as weak in the U.S. and UK as many countries which we would consider “rogue nations”.    See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

This is a sudden change.  As famed Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto notes:

In a few short decades the West undercut 150 years of legal reforms that made the global economy possible.

Given that a country’s economic health is correlated with a strong rule of law more than any other factor, that lawlessness in America is even more epidemic than the World Justice Project indicates – look here and here – and that 2 U.S. supreme court justices have warned of dictatorship … we’re in real trouble.

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  • ZioKikesR pigs

    I always said that we here in america we live in a dictatorship. most pernicious one.

  • It doesn’t have to be this way. The first thing though, is to start electing Libertarians. Anywhere and everywhere.

  • Björn

    Owen Minnis, dont look to libertarians, look to socialists, they are the ones looking out for the little people! Except for Germany the first 5 countrys in the first graf has hade most leftist(and reformist socialist) influeces!

    • libertyone

      Socialists are looking out for the Little people, such lunacy. You must not understand liberty, freedom, self governance.

  • Ann

    Welcome, friends, to neo-fascism,

  • Rich H

    What a list, those nine items. I’d say we don’t have any of them. But that’s just my experience. Others (millionaires and such) experience may vary.

  • Steve

    What is truly bizarre is the media’s reaction to crime and punishment in ‘enemy’ countries like Russia when anyone can point at numerous examples of worse government abuse in the US.

  • Mary

    We can add the name of Ann Montgomery to the name of corrupt judges in the US. She seems to handle cases that are “sensitive” to FBI/NSA and those with high level political connections – as in the case of Tom Petters, who loaned money to Walter Mondale’s son. I believe a fraud case against Adnan Khashoggi was also heard in her courtroom. Khashoggi walked out to start a strip club in Las Vegas. The money swindled from people has not yet been recovered. She’s the “go-to” gal in Minnesota.