It really is just this simple.

Government officials who violate the criminal law deserve to be — and are required to be — held accountable just like any other citizens who violate the law. That is a basic, and critically important, principle in our system of government.

The last hope of any accused person is that some judge, some jury, some court somewhere will hear his petition. That is, in some basic form, available to everyone, no matter how poor, no matter how downtrodden. It is a bedrock principle of who we are that we are all equal before the law. We fail that principle frequently, but we’ve never denied it before. We’ve never simply allowed our government to excuse itself from the bother of legal proceedings. We’ve never admitted that that happens, and we’ve certainly never said it’s okay.

This is the last line of defense our democracy has. And we’re there, we’re at that last line of defense. There is no other check on government power right now besides the courts. It’s this or nothing.

The appeals courts will either stand up against this, or fall, and if they fall, so we all fall with them. Once government officials have declared that they can do what they like and no one can stop them, I don’t know what we call this anymore. Certainly not the land of the free.