Democratic societies face a choice. As far as dilemmas go, it’s extremely straightforward: they can either have confidence in the justice they provide, or they can’t.

If a society trusts its justice system, it doesn’t cast doubts on it over trifles. It doesn’t restrict its purview, either, or casually level accusations about cover-ups or transactions.

If it doesn’t, there are hard times ahead, because the next victim will be the very cohesion of that society.

The numerous occasions on which justice has been called into question of late, whether in relation to the Rule of Law, the Tempe tragedy, or various common or garden criminal cases, have one thing in common. Their unscrupulousness.

But also a poisonous insinuation. That—supposedly—justice can be served outside the Constitution and despite the law, just as long as the “public sentiment” or some political objective are satisfied.

Well, it can’t.

Because, ultimately, it is the very framework of democracy that is being eroded away in the name of partisan ambition, selfish calculation, or personal ambition.

All of which may sound like big—and empty—talk. It isn’t.

When the attribution of blame (real or alleged) in a case like the Tempe rail disaster gets turned into signature gathering or party political grandstanding, it’s justice that suffers and is not done.

And this is so glaringly obvious, it makes bypassing the constitutional route on some excuse or pretext utterly unconscionable.

Because who’s supposed to pass justice otherwise? The folks marching in the afternoon demo?

And it becomes even more self-evident when people start mouthing off in favor of some sort of arbitrary “justice” to be delivered by hopped-up randoms on television wanting to pump their excitement up to 11.

On the other hand, of course, trust in the judiciary is non-negotiable.

It is a fundamental rule of democracy. A rule that holds in all cases—for the governing party and the Opposition alike.

Which is why anyone who undermines the constitutional order (even in the name of the Constitution!), or misuses ‘justice’ to score party political points, is ultimately jeopardizing democracy.

And not the democracy in their heads. The democracy of us all.

Because when the “people” are called on to decide what is “right” and take “justice” into their own hands, it’s democracy that pays.

Not the government. Not the judges. Not even the instigators of destabilization.

But democracy alone.

The last bastion of which is justice.