Irish Examiner view: Rule of law extends beyond courtroom

Irish Examiner view: Rule of law extends beyond courtroom

Angela Harrelson, center, aunt of George Floyd, talks to supporters at George Floyd Square after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of Floyd.

Joe Biden has called the guilty verdict in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd “a giant step” toward justice in the US.

That may well be the case but the murder and manslaughter convictions of Derek Chauvin are unlikely to mark the end of this racially divisive case.

The US Supreme Court might ultimately decide whether to uphold the convictions, particularly if Chauvin’s lawyers make a strong case for political interference during the trial.

The President himself was ill-advised to comment in advance of the jury decision when he described the evidence as “overwhelming” and said he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict”.

Some Congress members were more blatant. Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters made a statement — while jurors were not yet sequestered — calling for street protests unless Chauvin was found guilty of murder.

While the convictions signal a fairer justice system for racial minorities in the US, the rule of law extends further than the courtroom. Political interference disturbs the separation of powers inherent to the US constitution and many other constitutions, including our own.

What the verdict teaches us here is that there is no room for the aggressive policing that caused in this case such a tragic loss of life.

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