To preserve the government we must also preserve morals. Morality rests on religion; if you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. When the public mind becomes vitiated and corrupt, laws are a nullity and constitutions are waste paper. — Daniel Webster, early statesman, served in the U.S. House and Senate and as Secretary of State


Thinking Reasonably, Part 4

September 12, 2014   ·   By   ·   2 Comments

courtAbout the Law

When Benjamin Franklin was asked, following the Constitutional Convention, what kind of government our new nation would have, he replied, “a Republic, if you can keep it!”  If you asked the average citizen today, most believe we are a democracy.  Few people understand the significant difference between a democracy and a republic, and yet this is one of the most fundamental principles that we must embrace today in protecting freedom.

A democracy is a government of the people with rule of the majority.   A republic is a government of citizens with elected representatives accountable to them to vote and govern according to law.  A democracy has unlimited power of the majority, or a Majority over Man.  Many democracies have suffered under the excesses by a ruling elite. A republic uses the rule of law with a clear intent to protect the minority while limiting big government.

There are many types of law and examining all of them is beyond the scope of this piece, but a few need consideration.  The Founding Fathers clearly established the laws that they believed were most important. They expressed early in the Declaration of Independence that all men had a duty “to assume the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them”.  They believe their rights, “endowed by their Creator”, to live as free people could not be revoked!

Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution says “The United States shall guarantee…. a Republican form of Government…”.  The Founders warned of the risks of a democracy and unlimited government.  Article I, Section 8 requires the federal government to be limited in what it can do, and the 10th Amendment requires that all other functions are assigned to the States or the people.  What a significant and compelling departure from the unrestrained reach of the federal government today!

Frederick Bastiat, writing in his book, The Law, recognizes that “the law is force, and its proper function cannot lawfully extend beyond the proper functions of force.”   It must be used as a defensive safeguard for the citizen’s right to his personality, liberty and property.  The purpose of the law therefore goes beyond providing justice to preventing injustice from reigning!

Different types of law exist, but each must be consistent beginning with nature’s law as the highest authority.  The law established by the Constitution intentionally was written recognizing the higher authority of nature’s law.  All other laws, i.e. common law, administrative law, etc. must also recognize higher authorities.  If they are not consistent, they become, by their very conflict, unjust and therefore invalid.  Compliance with the law must be applied to all citizens.  Optional use of the law for convenience of special interest is simply unjust.

While much has been written about the application and rule of law, the simple over-view provided above provides a most practical way to enable the reader to begin to think reasonably!

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Dale Pflug is a U.S. Air Force veteran, retired engineer, program manager and business entrepreneur that lives in Central Florida. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Plug now spends his time teaching the constitution as an Institute on the Constitution Instructor, as a Co-host on the Barry Foster show in Central Florida, and his weekly column on Thinking Reasonably.
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  • retiredday

    “Law” means different things in different legal systems, operating under different morals, societies, cultures, histories and philosophies.

    One of the reasons laws are so different these days, compared to when our national legal system began more than two centuries ago, is the about face jurisprudence has made, in terms of the philosophy of law. At our founding, the prevailing legal philosophy was Natural Law, which seeks to reflect and even enshrine the principles of God’s laws in the laws of men.

    Ellis Washington, in his “Reply To Judge Richard A. Posner on The Inseparability of Law and Morality” ( ) calls todays prevailing philosophy of law “Positive Law”. No longer concerned with accountability to immutable God-given standards, legal positivism looks to determine the popular or current consensus of “moral” values, not unlike wetting one’s finger and sticking it in the wind.

    Experts such as Publius Huldah could explain this much better, but the main reason judges today read the Constitution differently from how it was understood a century ago is because they read it through the filter of a liberal, relativistic philosophy of law. That is how Roe v Wade determined the “constitutionality” of abortions, under the “right to privacy” found within the “penumbra” of the text of the Constitution.

  • retiredday

    A fundamentally important aspect of Law is the philosophy by which it is interpreted and applied. This is what accounts for the great discrepancy between strict constructionism and judicial activism. What a person thinks the Constitution says is based on whichever philosophical interpretation that person uses.

    Ellis Washington, in his “Reply To Judge Richard A. Posner on the Inseparability of Law and Morality” presents a thorough case defending Natural Law and exposing the deception of Positive Law.

    The difference between the two can be characterized as making laws that reflect and enshrine God’s authority on the one hand, as opposed to wetting one’s finger and sticking it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. When it comes to Law, this makes all the difference in the world.

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