Opinion: Rule of law should be good for everyone, every party

Efforts to thwart Fulton DA’s prosecution of 19 defendants goes against longstanding American principles.
Georgia Capitol is seen on Crossover Day, and legislative day 28 on Monday, March 6, 2023. Monday is the last day for a bill to move from one chamber to another. 
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Georgia Capitol is seen on Crossover Day, and legislative day 28 on Monday, March 6, 2023. Monday is the last day for a bill to move from one chamber to another. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

I ask my fellow Georgians - Republicans and Democrats, one question: what is it, precisely, that makes our nation great? For me, a former prosecutor who is now a civil rights attorney and representative for the 62nd District in Fulton County, it is that we are a nation of laws - not of men. It is this one precious distinction that sets the United States apart from totalitarian nations.

Perhaps your answer to the question of what makes ours the greatest nation in the world was that all of our citizens have the right to vote and have their votes counted -- equally. If this is your belief, how could you not be outraged about the fact that it appears that there was a broad conspiracy, which included members of our state government, to discard the votes from Georgia in the 2020 presidential election? This effort included a public bullying campaign by our former president, which led to death threats to Georgia election workers and government officials. The public bullying continues to this day.

The movement gaining momentum among some of our state’s Republican leadership, including State Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch, to hold legislative hearings to investigate Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is a blatant attempt to usurp the authority of Georgia’s judicial branch and undermine the very constitution they are sworn to uphold. The governor’s nearly lone voice among Republican leadership in support of our constitution is a testament to how far the party has fallen from its stated principles of law and order, limited government and respect for local control. Their party now worships at the altar of Trump’s dark echo chamber, beholden to neither facts, law nor truth.

State Rep. Tanya Miller

Credit: contributed

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Credit: contributed

District Attorney Willis is sworn to uphold the laws of Fulton County and the state of Georgia. Her thorough, painstaking investigation into the conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 Georgia presidential election has led to 19 defendants being charged. Voluminous evidence was presented to both the special and regular grand juries. The wheels of justice are moving as they should. All 19 defendants will be granted every protection guaranteed under our Constitution, as they should. No one is above the law - not even a former president.

Those who seek to investigate her have not engaged in this painstaking, multi-year process. It is they, not District Attorney Willis, who are acting without information. It is they who are driven solely by their political agenda to protect Donald Trump from legal consequences, even at the cost of our democracy.

Earlier this year, Georgia Republicans passed Senate Bill 92 establishing a commission to oversee locally elected prosecutors and, potentially, remove them from office. Prior to the bill’s passage, my Democratic colleagues and I predicted precisely what is now happening - an overreach of the legislative branch that ignores separation of powers and undermines the very constitution we are sworn to protect.

For Republicans to simultaneously claim to embrace a “law and order” agenda and then argue that their standard bearer should not be accountable to follow the laws they profess to revere is the height of hypocrisy and sets the dangerous precedent that it is status, not actions, that determine whether a person should be held accountable.

District Attorney Fani Willis is doing the work the people of Fulton County elected her to do.

It is sadly ironic that the Georgia GOP platform states: We believe that our constitutional system of limited government, separation of powers, federalism, and the rights of the people — must be preserved uncompromised for future generations.

I agree, but the actions of these Republican leaders show that they do not.

State Rep. Tanya Miller is deputy whip of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus.