Public Policy Justice Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1770 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sociology

Justice for All

The concept of justice involves human relationships within society. As such, the term is fluid and flexible, always changing to accommodate the particular situation it refers to. Justice can for example refer to an outcome that is satisfying for all parties involved, while in other cases, society can be satisfied, but the perpetrator of a crime is punished and feels that justice is not served. In criminal justice, cases may also occur where the accused is wrongfully convicted, in which case society is satisfied, but in truth justice has not been served. Justice can also refer to social relationships. Social justice for example includes the way in which different sectors of society, such as men, women, people of different races, the disabled, etc. interact with each other. Social justice is not served when discrimination occurs. The Constitution attempts to secure "justice for all."

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The phrase "justice for all" could however be somewhat problematic, because of the many different meanings it can have. In addition to "justice" referring to many different kinds of justice and situations, the word "all" is also somewhat ambiguous. During the time of slavery, "all" referred only to white citizens. During the time of upheaval during revolutions to secure the very justice for the oppressed sectors of society, "all" referred only to those not taking part in public protests. Currently, "all" tends to refer to people who are neither Arabic of origin, nor adhere to Islam as their religion. It also refers to those with the money to afford the best legal representation or have the correct social and political background. Those in power furthermore tend to be excluded from being judged according to the law, hence violating justice under the protection of the law.

Term Paper on Public Policy Justice Assignment

The word "justice" could also have positive or negative connotations, depending upon the situation and the persons involved. From the point-of-view of disadvantaged sectors of society, for example, justice is served by ensuring equal access to the various rights offered by the Constitution. On an individual, a white male who has served his company for more than ten years will tend to feel that justice has not been served when he has been fired to make room for an affirmative action employee, regardless of how well qualified the new employee is. In controversial issues such as abortion or gay rights, justice as a concept becomes even more difficult to define. In such cases, the rights of the parties involved become conflicted, and cannot exist side by side. Here a decision therefore has to be made regarding how justice in general will be served best. Unfortunately, this is often decided by the inner prejudices by those in power, and hence justice in general terms is more often not served than otherwise.

Sarah Wildman (2004), reports on the example of the gay rights policy. Wildman notes that the trends in the Supreme Court at the time of writing indicated that up to four new justices would be appointed to the Supreme Court during President George W. Bush's term of power. In addition, the President was also to appoint a new Supreme Court chief justice. Being conservative, the President would appoint justices with the same general orientation, which means that the law is interpreted in a conservative manner. The problem in terms of justice is that the President and his followers are somewhat extreme in their views, often precluding equality and thus justice within the society that they serve. As conservative, President Bush and his followers have often openly declared their opposition to providing the gay community with rights such as the right to marry.

The conflicting views relates to the conflicting sense of justice experienced by the Government and the conservative community, and the gay community. The former believe that they have the right to live in a "decent" society, where they can raise their children without having to be exposed to "unnatural" and "confusing" relationships. The gay community on the other hand feels that they have the right to express their love for each other without being persecuted by politicians or any other citizens of the country. And indeed, they appear to be provided with this right by the very Constitution. This however once again raises the question of definition. President Bush and his government have the power to interpret the law as they see fit. If justice conflicts, they have the power to make decisions according to their personal belief systems. This is an example of how politics can override social justice. In this case, "all" refers to the heterosexual sectors of society, excluding the gay community. Furthermore, by appointing only supreme court justices with a specific set of values, the Government ensures that justice for all occurs only from a certain viewpoint.

The ideal of social justice can as easily elude other sectors of society, such as the disabled, women, people of a certain skin color or religion, or indeed the aged. Although politics are not as involved in this case as for gay rights, this makes the violation of justice in such cases no less prominent. According to Joseph Bednar (2007), such discrimination can even take place in an unconscious way. The author names the example of a disabled person visiting a restaurant with his wife, when the restaurant host only addresses her in asking what seating arrangement should be made for him. This reflects a social attitude that is often found within society at a subconscious level. Such subtle forms of discrimination is not only extremely difficult to identify, but also to curb, because most perpetrators are unaware that they are actually exercising prejudice in this way.

Less subtle are other, more formal forms of discrimination such as in the workplace and industry such as leisure. Despite the fact that the law has changed to include the disabled and indeed all sectors of society in the workforce in a more prominent way, some employers still refuse to make the necessary changes. In many ways, the workplace is still plagued by discrimination in terms of gender, race and other features. This undermines social justice in terms of equality. True justice occurs only in a society where there is no discrimination on a social or political level. With all its conflicting rights and discriminations, it is difficult to say that true justice occurs without fail in the United States. Indeed, whether "justice for all" is occurring is often a matter of subjective opinion, depending upon one's definitions of the concepts "justice" and "all." In some cases then, global justice for all is far from the American political, workplace and social scene.

It is also however true that many structures are in place to not only raise awareness, but also to ensure that justice are provided to those who find themselves victimized by existing systems. According to Bednar (2007), the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) is one such entity. The commission exists mostly to help those who find themselves victimized by workplace discrimination. Bednar mentions the example of a man whose entire life was devoted to one career and one employer throughout his life, and was forced to retire on the basis of having reached a certain age despite the faced that he was not in any way less capable of handling his work duties.

The MCAD therefore functions to provide those who are discriminated against with a sense of power over their lives; often discrimination occurs in focus on something that is outside of the victim's control. By making use of entities such as the Commission, victims are able to overcome the sense of being victimized and can regain some assertive control over their lives and situations. In this way, empowerment becomes one of the key ingredients in justice. Not only is the responsibility of politics, the workplace and society to ensure that the Constitution is honored, but individuals at the receiving end of discrimination can also now take responsibility for promoting justice for themselves and others like them. Indeed, individuals are increasingly aware of their own rights in terms of discrimination and justice, and are in a position to take advantage of this knowledge.

In addition to and integrated with political and social justice is legal justice. It has been mentioned that legal "justice" is often a case of whose lawyer is the best and most expensive, rather than whether justice in its essential form is served. The legal system is furthermore often corrupted by officials who hold particular prejudices, just as seen above in the case of politics. However, according to the Baltimore Daily Record (2007), a step into the direction of justice for the financially less privileged does occur via legislation such as the approval of the IOLTA Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts) Comparability Rule. The Rule is the result of a compromise between the banking industry and the Maryland Legal Services Corp., involving the creation of a funding source for civil legal aid to those who cannot afford it. Issues particularly relevant to this… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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