Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Just and the Unjust

Excerpt of some comments I made on a Facebook posting last night.  I thought I'd share, as I'm always open to criticism.

A couple of thoughts. First, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, both of the State and the Nation. And unlike many of my colleagues, I actually think the oath means something about circumstances much bigger and more important than just me.
More importantly we have to ask a semi-philosophical question. Does the Constitution enable only the passage of just laws, or does it enable the passage of any law, just or unjust?

I think the answer is self evident, but not easy. The Constitution is based upon Natural law and demands limited government, two preexisting concepts which depend upon protection and enforcement only through just laws. An unjust law by definition degrades a human being, a just law elevates and promotes the value of the person. An unjust law is anathema to Natural law, so the Constitution cannot contemplate a structure of unjust laws within its framework. To suggest otherwise implies a dysfunctional absurdity.

We have problems with the above argument when we examine the original text and its implicit support for slavery (i.e. the 3/5th's clause) and lack of universal suffrage (among other flaws). Slavery is perhaps the ultimate example of an unjust institution. At the founding, then, the document was internally flawed and suffered internal contradiction. However, the Founders admitted the document was imperfect and would be imperfect, and allowed for the Amendment process in order for future generations to correct those flaws. Men like Jefferson and Hamilton expected that in decades to come the document would ultimately be corrected, in essence pushed towards the notion of "more perfect" (though not absolutely ever perfect).

Lo' and behold that is precisely what happened some 89 or 90 years later, by way of a massive internal convulsion we call the Civil War. Some decades later we started on the path to correct issues with universal suffrage for women and other areas where Civil Rights needed to be addressed. So, with that understanding in mind, it then becomes consistent to say the Constitution is, in fact, a framework which contemplates only the passage of just laws. Anything unjust defaults to being unconstitutional.

So, then you have to ask if the current push for gun control amounts to unjust law imposing upon a preexisting Natural right. I think the question answers itself. There can be nothing elevating or just about restricting the right of a human being to defend herself, provide for her family, or lend his life and arms to the defense of his community. Some counter this with the supposed injustice of armed violence in our communities. To that I would answer that evil men are not just and they choose to operate outside the bounds of civil, rational society. The injustices committed by evil people are not to be remedied by exacting a price on those who abide by the just laws of society. At the same time exacting retribution on the good, then, is indeed a heresy against justice. The form of this heresy being unjust laws, no good member of civil society is bound to obey them.

Someone or something much bigger than me will ultimately judge my action or inaction. I simply know where I stand and what I will and will not do. If we must hang, let us all hang together.

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