LAWS AND MORALITY
The law cannot protect people against tyranny. Tacitus, the Roman historian, correctly observed, "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."
Unfortunately, too many citizens have been seduced by the propaganda of America's overly large legal industry to accept the legal processes as the final word.
"We must be a nation of laws," they like to say.
Whatever the law is or whatever the courts say the law is, we must obey, our lawyer friends advise. The legal process, however, may produce a result that is either just or unjust; the process itself may be corrupt or used corruptly; and finally, the law itself may be an abomination.
A few examples will suffice to prove the point that the law is no protection against tyranny.
Nazi officials broke no German laws when they sent people to their deaths. Neither did the Soviet officials. George Armstrong Custer operated with complete governnent approval. FBI and BATC officials were executing a court-issued warrant when the Waco tragedy erupted.
Tyrants, in fact, have always used the law to accomplish their oppressions. "Law, logic, and mercenaries may be hired to fight for anybody," says an old proverb.
If Americans continue to drift toward authoritarian rule they will find themselves legally oppressed. Their liberty will not have been stolen by any army at the point of a bayonet. Liberty and freedoms will have been stolen by legislation passed, signed, and upheld by the courts - in short by the law and enforcement of the laws.
Slavery was legal, recognized in the U.S. Constitution, upheld by the United States Supreme Court. There were many laws on the books governing slavery. No abolitionists ever argued that slavery was illegal. They argued that it was immoral and unjust. Yet, if people in those days had done what lawyers want people to do today - accept the law because it is the law - slavery might have existed a lot longer than it did. Racial segregation was also legal. Those laws were passed by democratically elected legislatures and upheld by U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. Again, no one argued that racial segregation was illegal; people argued it was wrong and unjust. Even when the Supreme Court got around to reversing itself on school desegregation, it did so on the basis of sociological ideals, and only indirectly on the legal issues. In its decision the Supreme Court implicitly recognized that separate but equal schools satisfied the law in theory but said sociological evidence demonstrated that segregation itself resulted in inequaity.
Again, abolitionists of the death penalty do not argue that execution is illegal; they argue that it is immoral and unjust. American courts Everywhere have said it was legal, but not one has addressed its morality.
The taxes imposed on the American patriots who rebelled against England were legal taxes. The Patriots never argued that taxes had been illegally imposed on them; they argued it was unjust to levy taxes on people without giving them a voice in the decision. No one denies it is the law in Texas to deny the American Indian prisoner the right to worship according to tradition; but we do argue that it is unjust and imnoral.
I can't think of any great event in history that materially improved the welfare of humankind and that resulted from mere legislation or a court decision. After revolutions, lawyers come in and codify the results, but the revolutions are accomplished by people acting on their own sense of what is right and wrong, and what is just and unjust.