For the rule of law to be respected, it must be few, followed, and ‘nforced. Too many “laws” turn each citizen into a criminal awaiting conviction, for who can comply with all the thousands of rules, regulations and laws passed annually? What happens to a free society when presidents, governors, mayors and police officers don’t follow their sworn oaths to faithfully execute the laws? The same as if citizens could choose to ignore laws with which they don’t agree? Anarchy – “Where there is no law. There is no freedom,” as wisely noted by John Locke in his “Two Treatises of Government.”
For laws to be respected, they must be moral. If not, the conflict between what is legal and what is moral decays both. What to do then, when a bad law is passed? Follow Abraham Lincoln’s legal advice, “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.”
It certainly worked for the 18th Amendment, the prohibition of alcohol. The rule of law is not just what bill gets through the legislature, but what laws are respectable – the few, followed, and ‘nforced.
With the upcoming start of the new 2017 legislative session in Illinois, this letter may provide some guidance to new and returning representatives and senators.
Happy New Year!
Dan Bruzzini, St. Louis