A Call for Legislative Change – Part 2, by J.D.

(Continued from Part 1)

The third explanation is law, which is defined as the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties. Let’s disagree with that definition, because clearly with millions of laws and regulations on the books to regulate our actions it doesn’t work. Our country’s prison system maintains over 5,000 jails with a population of nearly seven million. It doesn’t look like law regulates anything to include the definition of “actions”. I think we can argue ethics does regulate action, because it regards or concerns what is right and wrong in human behavior and is considered the study of proper action.

The fourth explanation is Moral Law and relates to moral behavior. Moral Law can be referred to as a system of guidelines for behavior, such as God’s Ten Commandments, for those who practice Christianity. These ethical principles have influenced the development of secular law within our society. Passing laws can be easy when politicians identify behavior that’s socially unacceptable. But what kind of behavior should government promote? Does government rule “we the people”? Government has tried to implement that behavior with millions of laws and regulations, and with a clear reflection I think we can agree that it doesn’t work.

The fifth explanation is Immoral Law. Dr. Martin Luther King, inhis letter from Birmingham Jail, argued segregation laws were immoral because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality (King, 7). So in relation to this explanation of immoral law at that time in America, it could be said: A law inflicted upon a minority which that minority had no part in enacting or creating because they did not have the right to vote. How does this example apply to our laws of today in regards to the minority of undocumented worker wages?

Government has created a byzantine maze of criminal law that is so incomprehensible that even legal specialists don’t agree on what the rules specify. And because of this, let’s talk about some solutions to ease or repeal our over regulated societies options to get us started down a path of common sense law making. First, laws should be subjected to cost-benefit analysis by an independent watchdog. Second, big regulations should have sunset clauses. Third, laws and regulations need to be written with much simpler language. Fourth, unreasonable judgments should be subject to swift appeal. And finally, the fifth and most important solution to repeal or ease our over-regulated society is jury nullification. We should consider it our fourth branch of government. Jury nullification can be explained when a jury returns a verdict of “Not Guilty” despite its belief that the defendant is guilty of the violation charged. The jury in effect nullifies a law that it believes is either immoral or wrongly applied to the defendant whose fate they are charged with deciding.

Jury nullification rests on two truths about the American criminal justice system: Jurors can never be punished for the verdict they return, and defendants cannot be retried once a jury has found them not guilty, regardless of the jury’s reasoning. As our third president, Thomas Jefferson, wrote to Thomas Paine in 1789 in a letter, which said, “I consider trial by jury as the only anchor, ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of the constitution.” Jury nullification is an ancient right first expressed in the Magna Carta and dating from Greek and Roman times. The lawyer Lysander Spooner explained the doctrine in Trial by Jury in 1852, saying, “It is not only the right and duty of juries to judge the facts, what is the law, and what was the moral intent of the accused; but that is also their right, and their primary and paramount duty, to judge of the justice of the law; and to hold all laws invalid, that are, in their opinion, unjust or oppressive, and all persons guiltless in violating, or resisting the execution of, such laws.” In plain speak that means, the jury has a duty to judge the law as well as to judge the facts presented against the defendant, and if the law doesn’t agree with their conscious they have a moral obligation to acquit the accused because they believe the law immoral or unjust. Legal scholar Glenn Reynolds provides a strong defense of nullification:

Of course, prosecutors have essentially the same power, since they’re under no obligation to bring charges against even an obviously guilty defendant. But while the power of juries to let guilty people go free in the name of justice is treated as suspect and called “jury nullification,” the power of prosecutors to do the exact same thing is called “Prosecutorial discretion,” and is treated not as a bug, but as a feature in our justice system. But there’s no obvious reason why one is better than the other. Yes, prosecutors are professionals, but they’re also politicians, which means that their discretion may be employed politically. And they’re repeat players in the justice system, which makes them targets for corruption in a way that juries — laypeople who come together for a single case — aren’t. (Reynolds 1)

Our society is growing increasingly impatient with our judicial system and the bureaucrats that have created this monster. Our various levels of government do not grant or give us our rights. Politicians are voted in and sworn to recognize and protect our pre-existing and unalienable rights as guaranteed by our Constitution, which is based upon common sense law. And when lawmaking gets out of hand, the jury has a duty to express its power against an over regulated society by purging corruption from our judicial system when a law doesn’t pass its conscience and finds the accused not guilty. Enough, “Not Guilty” verdicts can redirect politicians and bureaucrats to reexamine or repeal the over-regulation and return our society to some common sense legislative work. The current system is out of order. Law is thought to be a structure for humans to make choices, not a substitute for volition.

Works Cited

“Fast Facts.” Fast Facts. National Center for Education Statistics, 01 May 2015. Web. 12 June 2016.

Andrade, Jane C. “New Laws for a New Year 2014.” National Conference of State Legislators. Public Affairs Director, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 09 May 2016.

Bloomekatz, Ari. “Ball Playing, Frisbee Tossing Now Allowed on
L.A. County Beaches.” L.A. Times. L.A. Now, 07 Feb. 2012. Web. 12
June 2016.

Dawson, John W., and John J. Seater. “Federal Regulation and Aggregate Economic Growth.” The Sources of Economic Growth in OECD Countries (2013): 0. North Carolina State University. Department of Economics, 01 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 June 2016.

Glaze, Lauren E., and Danielle Kaeble. “Correctional Populations in the United States, 2013.” Correctional Populations in the United States, 2013 (n.d.): n. pag. U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs, 01 Dec. 2014. Web. 12 June 2016.

Howard, Philip K. “The Death Of Common Sense. (Cover Story).” U.S. News & World Report 118.4 (1995): 57. Vocational and Career Collection. Web. 5 May 2016.

King, Martin L. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.].” University of Pennsylvania. African Studies Center, n.d. Web. 12 June 2016.

McLaughlin, Patrick A., and Richard Williams. “Why We Need Regulatory Reform in Two Charts.” Mercatus Center, George Mason University. Mercatus Center, 27 May 2014. Web. 12 June 2016.

Reynolds, Glenn Harlan. “Reynolds: Nullifying Juries More Interested in Justice than Some Prosecutors.” USA Today. Gannett, 06 Aug. 2015. Web. 13 June 2016.

Stephan, James J. “Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities, 2005.” ICPSR Data Holdings (n.d.): n. pag. U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs, 01 Oct. 2008. Web. 12 June 2016.

Stossel, John. “America, the Law-crazed.” Townhall. n.p., 25 July 2012. Web. 09 May 2016.