Rule of Law index: U.S. Ranks Low In Access To Justice Compared To Other Wealthy Nations

Access to justice is a core American value. But a new survey of the rule of law across the globe finds that the U.S. ranks surprisingly low relative to its high-income peers in terms of access to legal counsel in civil disputes and equal protection under criminal law.

The “Rule of Law Index,” released Wednesday by the independent World Justice Project, found that in some categories the U.S. even ranks below some developing nations, such as Botswana and Georgia.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, the survey’s authors said the problems in the U.S. are primarily due to unequal access to justice based on race and class.

“In the U.S., socioeconomic level matters,” said Alejandro Ponce, chief research officer for the World Justice Project. “Poor people are at a disadvantage in all these situations, as are ethnic minorities.”

In the category of criminal justice, the U.S. ranked 26th among 97 countries, and in the bottom 20 percent of wealthy nations — dragged down by low scores in the subcategory of equal protection.

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