In his 1960 play A Man for All Seasons, Robert Bolt writes a scene in which the 16th-century English lawyer William Roper presses his father-in-law Sir Thomas More, embattled advisor to King Henry VIII, about his defence of a man he deems to be “bad.”
“So now you’d give the Devil benefit of the law!” Roper says.
“Yes,” More replies. “What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get at the Devil?”
Roper retorts, “I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”
The exchange captures the spirit of the inherent, inexorable tension between politics and the rule of law – and reminds us how long this has been a going concern.