Themis The Goddess of Justice — And Letting Slip The Blindfold
We take our idolized vision of justice from the statue of Themis, the Greek goddess of divine law. Our depiction of Themis, as are most of the likenesses that have come down from ancient times, finds her standing blindfolded, with an upraised balance scale in her left hand, while resting a sword upon the ground in her right hand.
In her Greek incarnation, Themis judged the dead, deciding based upon how they had lived their lives, whether they were at death to go to the Elysian Fields or Tartarus. This is our literal difference between heaven and hell, and for that reason, she was blindfolded, to ensure she meted out impartial justice.
We sometimes call images and statues of this lady, “Blind Justice” because of that blindfold. That is a misrepresentation of justice, and of the justice system. Justice is not blind — but blindfolded.
The blindfold that Themis wore was an acknowledgment that as individuals we are weak and prone to our own prejudices and beliefs. Themis was not blind, to the contrary, she could see more clearly than today’s liberals, apparently, that were she not blindfolded, the justice she would administer would not be justice at all.
Themis in her administration of justice was not allowed to use her life experience as a Greek goddess to color her decisions, but instead chose to place a blindfold before her eyes in order to better be impartial.
The sword in her right hand represents power. It is an acknowledgment of the power the state wields over the people in the thwarting of true justice, should it choose to use it. That sword is not upraised in the use of that power, but instead resting upon the ground as a symbol that the state will not use its power. It is not meant to be a threat, but as a reminder.
And finally, there is the balance scale that Themis holds aloft in her left hand. It is upon that scale that the facts of justice are laid. Arguments, laws, facts and judicial opinions are weighed impartially to arrive at justice.
The balance scale does not begin with weight already added to one side or another. There is not gradation, allowing one set of facts one weight, and another set of facts a heavier weight — except as those facts determine their own weight in the administration of law.
And once again, in the balancing of the law, Themis does not let slip the blindfold — she does not peek below the cloth to see that justice is administered more fairly to one set of people than to another.
Themis does not set out to right past wrongs by inflicting additional wrongs. When justice is unequal for some — it is unequal for all. When justice begins with the premise that it will tilt the scale toward one person or people in the interest of “fairness” toward that person, it is by definition “unfair” or unequal to another.
That the Supreme Court of the United States would include an individual who has openly stated that their experience as a [man/woman, white/minority, gay/straight, etc] somehow gives them the right to tilt justice toward their point of view, and away from equality under the law, is the very antithesis of American justice.
Lady Themis does not peek out from under her blindfold in the administration of justice — but soon the United State Supreme Court will!
Originally published at The Minority Report