A depraved taste for equality

[Some people] have a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to lower the powerful to their own level, and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality with freedom. I believe that it is easier to establish an absolute and despotic government amongst a people in which the conditions of society are equal, than amongst any other; and I think that, if such a government were once established amongst such a people, it would not only oppress men, but would eventually strip each of them of several of the highest qualities of humanity. Despotism, therefore, appears to me peculiarly to be dreaded in democratic times.

Equality under the law

Our Founders warned us that all republics have eventually fallen into tyranny — the only difference being the relative timeline of each republic’s descent … From the summer of 1787 when our Framers deliberated over their magnificent Constitution, we have recognized that the clear statement and equal application of the Law is among the most critical duties of any government. If we allow ourselves to lose this, we may as well be back in ancient Rome, subject to the whim of every petty tyrant in the taxing bureau or the zoning board. For it doesn’t matter whether the regulator’s foot is shod in a jack boot or a Roman sandal; if he can hold you down with that boot upon your neck, then we are no longer in the America that our Founding Fathers intended for us.

Dealing with inequality

From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time.