Every American should be grateful for the life of William Ruckelhaus, who personified the rule of law by refusing President Nixon’s order to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Cox refused a direct order from the White House to stop his legal demands for tapes and other materials in his investigation of the Watergate scandal.
Ruckelhaus knew the dangers inherent in ignoring the most basic notion of right and wrong and inspired a generation of good government advocacy.
His actions provide an example to people who serve in the Department of Justice that their job is to uphold the law, not act as the president’s co-conspirator or apologist. His example provides lessons for Congress as it continues the impeachment process; in the murky dark swamp, it only takes a flicker of light to remind each of us of the power we have within.
Leaders like William Ruckelhaus, Elliot Richardson and Archibald Cox remind us of leaders who stood for the rule of law and justice. It is a stark reminder that we don’t have to accept those who abuse power and seek to silence the people. May William Ruckelhaus’ death provide a moment of reflection for leaders in the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice and in Congress that we need the kind of integrity and leadership that the American people experienced during Watergate. William Ruckelhaus took the side of the people and the Constitution and proved the resilience of our republic when in the hands of honest women and men.