I Believe in (the Rule of Law) Fairies: The Distance Between Conceptions of the Rule of Law Fairies in Public Discourse and Conceptual Meaning

The concept of the Rule of Law is frequently deployed in public discourse. The concept’s precise meaning is also frequently explored. Yet, the overlap between the two spheres is less frequently considered. I explore the overlap and illustrate the differences between the concept’s deployment as a rhetorical device in public discourse in Australia and its conceptual meaning. By considering recent invocation of the concept by the Australian Prime Minister (‘PM’) and Attorney General (‘AG’), I identify the concept’s deployment in the public sphere and contrast the difference to the precise meanings of the concept in the literature that explores the concept’s meaning. By replacing the PM and AG’s ‘Rule of Law’ with a stated belief in fairies, I illustrate the concept’s deployment is irrelevant and has purely rhetorical value. In consequence, I suggest an alternate phrase (or phrases) should be used by academics and professionals in place of ‘the Rule of Law’ to ensure clarity.