Do public legal institutions need to show moral integrity? The case of hypocrisy.

Does the state need to have a moral standing to exercise public authority? Is this standing vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy? The paper explores these issues, arguing that it is at times necessary for the state to claim a sort of moral standing in order to exercise its public authority, particularly where it engages in blaming practices such as punishment. However, the required standing is not equivalent to the moral standing that individuals need to blame or claim authority over others. Certain objections may not apply to the political relationship. Hypocrisy seems to be a kind of objection that is not appropriate for the political relationship as it is not based on reciprocity. Yet there is a strong intuition that suggests that when public authority is inconsistent and thus acts hypocritically, its actions may not be legitimate. How can we make sense of both the nature of the political relationship and the expectations we may have over the integrity of law and public agencies?