Modern Notorious Misuses of Power
IN THE law given through Moses, the Creator strongly condemned bribe taking on the part of judges. (Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 10:17; 16:19) We can see how wise such instructions were by noting some modern cases of misuse of power by officials.
One such involved Judge Martin T. Manton. Back in 1918 he tried to thwart the efforts of the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known, to get bail for J. F. Rutherford and seven of his associates. These eight Christian ministers were charged with interfering with the war effort and were sent to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. The appeals court hearing their case consisted of three judges, including Manton. He dissented, but the other two judges granted the appeal, and the improper conviction was reversed.
What kind of judge was Manton? The press called him “the highest ranking judicial officer [in the United States] next to the nine Justices of the Supreme Court.” He was also one of America’s most distinguished laymen, the pope making him “Knight of St. Gregory.” Manton’s downfall came when he was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison and fined $10,000. For what? For selling judicial decisions. More than that, he had the temerity to blackmail those appearing before him, threatening that unless they paid him a large sum, he would decide against them. The New York Times said concerning him: “Blackmail was emanating from the Federal court house.” What an abuse of judicial power!
Years later another notorious case surfaced, involving Spiro Agnew, vice president of the United States during 1969-73. He was charged with cheating the government out of thousands of dollars, and so he resigned. As late as 1983, he paid the state of Maryland more than $250,000 because of bribes he had accepted.
Then there was Richard M. Nixon, who had chosen Agnew to run as vice president. The U.S. Senate committee dealing with the Watergate case recommended that Nixon be impeached on three counts: that he had abused his presidential powers; that he obstructed justice; and that he had disobeyed subpoenas. Likely you know that he resigned on August 9, 1974, with two and a half years remaining of his presidency.
Such abuse of power is worldwide. For example, Canada’s magazine Maclean’s of July 15, 1985, reported on “wild sex parties on Parliament Hill . . . and unauthorized financial payoffs.” It related that at a party a senior government personnel officer told a 30-year-old woman: “If you don’t take your clothes off, you’re not going to have a job.”
At about the same time, an international news magazine published the article “Corruption Slows China’s Turnabout.” It reported: “Virtually every recent day, the official press has carried accounts of financial skulduggery, some involving high-ranking officials.”
More recently, the New Zealand Herald, under the heading: “Curse of Corruption Major Threat in ‘Lucky Country,’” reported the view of a retired judge: “Australia, in the middle of the 1980s, is rich, confident and corrupt.” The article mentioned “a justice system that in the past year has seen a judge from the highest court in the land put behind bars and that reels almost daily with startling evidence of police on the take.”
It is apparent that all such abusers of power ignore the principle stated by Christ: “There is nothing covered over that will not become uncovered, and secret that will not become known.”—Matthew 10:26.