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Natural Law

Posted by Jonathan Gasso | Aug 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

[The state] which denies the spiritual nature and eternal destiny of man can offer no coherent security for rights, including the right to live. If man is nearly matter, with no destiny beyond the grave, there is no intrinsic reason for any absolute limits on what society and the State can do to him.

-           Professor Charles Rice of Notre Dame

I meant to post an article about a return to natural law a few months ago. I can't tell you why I didn't follow through. Whether it was the political atmosphere, my focus on other areas of life, or the fact that there are more experienced and better writers to discuss the subject of natural law.

Starting tonight, I will write daily posts. Once a week I'll touch on the subject of Natural Law with links to other articles. You won't need a PHD to follow along, and tonight, I'll keep it short.

On Sunday, August 23, 2020 there was another shooting of an unarmed American. Jacob Blake, a man, son, sibling, and father of three, was shot seven times. Currently, he lays in a hospital paralyzed. Can anyone forget the video of Eric Garner, a man killed when placed in a chokehold by an officer enforcing New York's cigarette tax code? More recently, George Floyd who was murdered by a police officer while handcuffed.

I do not believe all police officers are evil and racist, nor do I believe our countries foundation was built on racists principles. However, I will not deny certain facts such as the racial and ethnic makeup of our prisons. In 2017, blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population but 33% of the sentenced prison population. Whites accounted for 64% of adults but 30% of prisoners. And while Hispanics represented 16% of the adult population, they accounted for 23% of inmates. Additionally, how can any not think laws passed effect the poor far more than they do the upper class of our society.

The cause of many of the unacceptable shootings and deaths of unarmed Americans are due to the excessive laws our political leaders pass, and our continued behavior of voting for individuals who fail to live up to our countries fundamental belief, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Or in the words of Martin Luther King, let freedom ring!

A return to reason and common sense would due our country some good. Natural Law could be a path for the harmony our political leaders publicly state they want. Classical natural law is a prescriptive system recognizing the existence of laws and rights prior to the creation of the state.  It's basic attributes, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, are to do what is good and avoid what is bad, to preserve life, the human race, and to live in community with others, in addition to avoid ignorance and develop your intellect to search for truth. Kirk A. Kennedy, Reaffirming the Natural Law Jurisprudence of Justice Clarence Thomas, 9 Regent U. L. Rev. 33, 41-42 (1997).

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