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With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  688 ratings  ·  100 reviews
From "the most important voice to have entered the political discourse in years" (Bill Moyers), a scathing critique of the two-tiered system of justice that has emerged in America

From the nation's beginnings, the law was to be the great equalizer in American life, the guarantor of a common set of rules for all. But over the past four decades, the principle of equality befo
Hardcover, 1st edition, 304 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Metropolitan Books (first published August 16th 2011)
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Oct 17, 2012 Mariel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: stewing in the nuances of hooligan law
Recommended to Mariel by: green is the new green
"The poorest laborer stands on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire, and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar." - Thomas Jefferson

The United States of America was intended to be a nation of laws, not of men. Liberty and justice for all. That was then.

In 1965 six large banks petitioned congress for retroactive immunity after an illegal merger. It was opposed by Senator Robert Kennedy and Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach said their proposal was "nothing mor
Dave Lefevre
On Face The Nation on October 9, 2011, Newt Gingrich said, to paraphrase, that the President of the United States could ignore Congress and the Courts if he or she feels they have become "dictatorial or arrogant." This breathtaking statement, akin to Nixon's famous statement that "If the president does it then it is not illegal" to Robert Frost, was reported widely by CBS, however all other news outlets just yawned at it.

This type of belief that the President and other political elites are above
Barry Eisler
This superb book is a powerful indictment of America's two-tiered system of "justice" and the perversion of American ideals by the American establishment (better understood as an oligarchy). It could serve as a manifesto of the Occupy movement, which, contrary to variously naive and opportunistic mischaracterizations, has no problem with people winning, and is opposed instead to systemic, institutionalized cheating.

If you think certain classes of people should be above the law, or that the law (
Though the content of this book is similar to what Glenn Greenwald writes in his blog, it was nice to read something that allowed Greenwald the space to put forward an argument and build upon it.

Greenwald uses his book to provide ample evidence of how the law has been used to, as the title states, destroy equality and protect the powerful. From the bailout of Wall Street to the torture regime, Greenwald certainly isn't lacking in areas to write about. He begins his argument with the pardon of R
Glenn Greenwald is one of the preeminent writers on civil liberties, US foreign policy and the intersection of the two. As a former lawyer, Greenwald brings strong rhetorical arguments to readers every day on His success on the Internet and various publications led to his first book, a reaction to the Bush presidency and its damaging effects on the rule of law in our country. The second took a similar track while the third addressed the great hypocrisies of many conservative leaders.

All Americans should read this cautionary book that describes in detail and chronologically how our country has departed from the rule that John Adams proposed, that we be a nation of laws and not of men.

I was always impressed with the move to impeach Richard Nixon that forced him to resign from office. That event was a high point in American history. As has been said, the strength of democracy is not in electing good people but in removing bad ones.

Much to the dismay of those who value the law,
What a profoundly relevant and necessary book about the two tiered justice system in American politics.
Greenwald's take is that todays gross misconduct to protect the politically powerful started when President Ford pardoned President Nixon. He used the same line about looking forward not backwards that President Obama used to not only condone but retroactively immunize President Bush wiretapping , banking crisis, mortgage crisis and torture crimes and the Obama administrations own crimes. For m
This is an excellent and entirely depressing book about the political and financial elites' blanket immunity from the law.

I was a little put off by the introduction which goes on at great length about how the founders prized the rule of law above all else. In general I'm not a huge fan of the theory that says if the founders said/believed it, it must be right. (Especially when they themselves didn't apply an idea equally. Obviously African-Americans, women, and non-property owning whites were t
Like all of Greenwald's books I have read to this point, this is well researched, and well-written. His premise is that justice is only available in the United States for a certain chosen few – – the elite, the politicians, and the wealthy.

He spends many chapters relating how various presidents and people on their staffs have avoided prosecution, even though they committed countless felonies.

As did many of us, Greenwald had high hopes that Pres. Obama would follow through with his pre-2008 elect
Greenwald has been writing about the two-tiered US justice system for several years on his blog at, so for his regular readers there's not much new in this book. But it's worth reading to get a sense of the way in which this system has developed in the past 40 years.

A capsule summary: Ford's pardon of Nixon; the nearly complete absence of penalties for the perpetrators of the Iran-Contra affair; Bush's pardon of Caspar Weinberger in 1992; Clinton's refusal to investigate the very serio
Colleen Clark
Excellent. Brief and clearly written. The title exactly describes the subject of the book. 274pp

The Introduction begins, "As a litigator who practiced for more than a decade in federal and state courts across the country, I've long been aware of the inequities that pervade the American justice system....only when I began regularly writing about politics [Greenwald is a contributor to Salon] did I realize that the problem extends beyond...inequities....Those with political influence and financial
David Melbie
Mar 10, 2012 David Melbie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to David by: Library choice
I am stunned. Most of what this book is about I already knew but, reading about it all together in a book has made me shudder. Greenwald has enlightened me regarding just how unconscionable the crimes of our politicians and financial institutions and other corporations really are in America. Spring is coming and I am the 99%!
Joseph Harris

“Greenwald lets no one off the hook in demonstrating the vast differences in legal recourse between rich and poor, powerful and weak… When the executive, judicial and legislative branches collude to avoid enforcement, lawlessness is the end result.”

Kirkus Reviews

"Glenn Greenwald'slatest book is an absolute must-read. Incredibly persuasive, rigorous and damning." —Christopher Hayes

“Glenn Greenwald is not just the American Left’s most fearless political commentator; his fearlessness i

Feb 25, 2013 Kcatty marked it as could-did-not-finish
Note to self: stop reading Glenn Greenwald.

The two blurbs on the back were from Michael Moore and Rachel Maddow. I should have known from that...

I think Greenwald is one of those radical, paranoid liberty nuts who sees inequality around every corner and any government law as intrusion.
Except he's liberal, so apparently he's accepted by the media.

Yes we know that the media, politicians and people turned a blind eye to Bush's idiocy that was EVERY DAMN THING HE DID. We understand that celebrities
Brenton Nichol
Hopefully there aren't that many people out there who don't recognize that there is currently a lot, and I mean a LOT, of unrest and unhappiness in the general US population. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of that unrest is misunderstood, misattributed, misapplied, or even willfully mischaracterized. The Tea Party may have had some noble goals in the beginning, but those were quickly overshadowed by birthers, extreme libertarians, and loonies who couldn't spell anything on their picket signs ...more
Joerg Rings
A very good but depressing account of the state of the rule of law in the US: Non-existent. While the wealthy basically now trade a system of favors for never being held accountable for their crimes (starting with the Nixon pardon, going on and accelerating today under the Obama-administration for the banks), the poorer ranks of the US are locked up in a prison system so strict and large it's in a league of its own in the world. This started in the 60s, when after the civil rights movement the l ...more
A Mulford
We're supposedly (because we're supposed to be) a nation of laws and not men. But that's not really true, as Greenwald more than adequately portrays in this, his latest, book.

It's one thing to understand that fair and equitable treatment within the criminal justice system is not perfect, After all, nothing is. But there is a huge difference between occasional miscarriages of justice and institutional favoritism which quite often gives the rich and powerful very little punishment, if any punishme
Phenomenal, just phenomenal, but in that way that makes me kinda want to die. The writing is sparse and elegant, the rhetorical structure is impeccable, the detail leaves nothing wanting, and the topic couldn't be more relevant or more depressing. Greenwald is mercilessly non-partisan; he lambasts Republican and Democratic administrations and politicians equally harshly (as well he should), on his way to the point that the establishment of elite immunity vis a vis the American "justice" system h ...more
A very pertinent book for the times. We all have a sense that the more powerful in society have an advantage when it comes to navigating the mire of our legal system. What Greenwald elucidates is that it doesn't stop there, the very laws and the people who uphold them are skewed in their favor as well. Chapter after chapter details these laws designed to punish the poor and weak and empower the already powerful.

A good but depressing read, a common thread among books dealing with the world we fi
greenwald succeeds in his primary goal — contrasting the increasingly laxity of application of the rule of law to financial and political elite with the the increasing rigor with which it is applied to the poor.

greenwald’s goal, i think, isn’t to give an even-handed analysis, but rather to motivate action — by outlining the role of the rule of law in the maintenance of democracy and the centrality of this principle in the founders’ thinking greenwald reminds us that this is the very bedrock pri
Reading this book was infuriating and enlightening, and left me with a shaking head and clenched fists. Greenwald, one of the most important and essential journalists working today, gives a blow by blow accounting of the two-tier system in place in American society and politics today, and the effects of that fiscally based bifurcated system. In the wake of Supreme Court decisions that assert that corporations ought to be afforded the same rights as human beings, Greenwald's book serves as a sobe ...more
Adam Edwards
When you tire of the mindless talking heads on television, start here and then read Glenn's daily column on He is the only journalist I can trust to present the facts independent of partisan shills on both sides of the aisles. He equally rebukes Bush and Obama, as well as their predecessors, for their disregard of our rights for which our ancestors died. This is the book that defines the modern independent who does not wish to choose the lesser of two evils.
This book is recommended for all citizens to understand how the system of law is being eroded and only works to often times shield those who are the biggest perpetrators. It is an unsettling read that makes start to ask bigger questions of how we (the world) has gotten to such a point. One can see why Occupy movements are calling for a change in the system - this book explains why the system is broken. The question now is how to change the system?
Mar 24, 2012 Beverly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Beverly by: Glenn Greenwald when interviewed on Moyers.
This is a book that everyone should read. It outlines the past 2 administrations' policies that are blatantly illegal and how the "rule of law" that was established by our forefathers is being violated to provide one set of laws for the 1% and another for the 99%. The ability of the individual to challenge the law is now met with censorship and prison. It's truly frightening and yet it validates what we have been seeing and why.
Greenwald never disappoints. Detailed, very well researched and presented. For anybody considering going into full blown apathy mode, this will certainly push you over the edge. I believe it is not enough to wave your hand through the air and proclaim, "I don't care, they're ALL crooks." One should at least be aware of WHY this is a valid position in the end.
For anyone (including myself) who thought that Obama was the face of "Hope and Change", this book shows that we were hoodwinked and delud
No surprises here for followers of Greenwald's column, or indeed anyone paying attention. Written in his characteristically direct and unabashedly non-partisan style, Greenwald gives a blow by blow commentary of the decaying accountability for this nation's elites.
Genine Franklin-Clark
Illuminating, disturbing. Nothing of which I was unaware, but Mr. Greenwald packages the information in a neat little, scathing package. We Americans have no right to the arrogance we display; our system of justice is broken.
Christian Robertson
Loved it! Can't wait for the Greenwald/Scahill/Poitras journalistic project. Will be nice to see/read the truth in the news.
Devastating attack on the oligarchy that runs this country with impunity. Glenn Greenwald is brilliant and dangerous.
Very good! Very infuriating! Obama does not fare well.
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Glenn Greenwald is an American lawyer, columnist, blogger and author who worked as a constitutional and civil-rights litigator prior to becoming a contributor (columnist and blogger) to, where he focuses on political and legal topics. He has also contributed to other newspapers and political news magazines, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The American Conservative, T ...more
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“Revealingly, the central function of the Constitution as law--the supreme law--was to impose limitations not on the behavior of ordinary citizens but on the federal government. The government, and those who ran it, were not placed outside the law, but expressly targeted by it. Indeed, the Bill of Rights is little more than a description of the lines that the most powerful political officials are barred from crossing, even if they have the power to do so and even when the majority of citizens might wish them to do so.” 8 likes
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