Morality – An unjust law is no law at all.
Constitutionality – Unconstitutional laws are null and void.
Necessity – Unnecessary laws are an unjust, unfair, counter-productive burden on the people.
Generality - Laws should not benefit only one group or bring harm upon any narrowly-defined group of individuals.
Prospectivity - Laws should always apply only in the future and never to the past. This is why our Constitution bars ex post facto laws.
Publicity – All laws should be widely published and well-known to all.
Consent – Our laws must be generally acceptable to those who will have to live by them.
Due Process – Our laws must be applied equally and fairly, with the punishment for each similar crime being the same for any convicted lawbreaker.
"If I am elected President of the United States, a team will be assigned to each piece of legislation that is passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate to examine in great detail whether such prospective laws meet this simple but rigorous test. I will also have a permanent copy of these eight elements on my desk and will personally test each bill against this plumb line before I sign it."
-- Tom Hoefling
"The only Person with any legitimate "choice" in matters of protecting innocent life and defining marriage is God. And He made those choices at the beginning of His creation. The only real question left for us is whether or not we will dutifully conform our laws and practices to His choice, so as to be blessed, or to be a curse to our posterity."
-- Tom Hoefling
"One may well ask: 'How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?' The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that 'an unjust law is no law at all.'
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.
...Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong. ...A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was 'legal' and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was 'illegal.' It was 'illegal' to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail
"Without justice being freely, fully, and impartially administered, neither our persons, nor our rights, nor our property, can be protected. And if these, or either of them, are regulated by no certain laws, and are subject to no certain principles, and are held by no certain tenure, and are redressed, when violated, by no certain remedies, society fails of all its value; and men may as well return to a state of savage and barbarous independence."
-- Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833
"Hence also, the origin of all civil government, justly established, must be a voluntary compact, between the rulers and the ruled; and must be liable to such limitations, as are necessary for the security of the absolute rights of the latter; for what original title can any man or set of men have, to govern others, except their own consent? To usurp dominion over a people, in their own despite, or to grasp at more extensive power than they are willing to entrust, is to violate that law of nature, which gives every man the right to his personal liberty; and can, therefore, confer no obligation to obedience."
"When human laws contradict or discountenance the means, which are necessary to preserve the essential rights of any society, they defeat the proper end of all laws, and so become null and void."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"Other nations have received their laws from conquerors; some are indebted for a constitution to the suffering of their ancestors through revolving centuries. The people of this country, alone, have formally and deliberately chosen a government for themselves, and with open and uninfluenced consent bound themselves into a social compact. . . .
"Our Union is now complete; our Constitution composed, established, and approved. You are now the guardians of your own liberties: We may justly address you as the decemviri did the Romans, and say: 'Nothing that we propose can pass into a law without your consent. Be yourselves, O Americans, the authors of those laws on which your happiness depends.'”
-- Samuel Adams, On American Independence, 1776
"Love to God and love to man is the substance of religion. When these prevail, civil laws will have little to do."
-- John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
"There is no good government but what is republican...a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men'...a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangement of the powers of society, or in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the law, is the best of republics."
-- John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776
America's Principles in Public Policy
“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’”
— Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail
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