When discussing current events with my fellow Republicans, I often find myself struggling with a common misconception – the bizarre idea that “legal and illegal” are in some way synonymous with “right and wrong”, “good and bad”, or “moral and immoral.” Republicans tend to be not just law-abiding folks, but also lovers of law and order. This love, as love often does, leads to poor thinking.
When I attempt to explain that what is legal may not be moral and what is moral may not be legal, I often find that my fellow Republicans close their minds not only to the idea — but to everything else I say and to me as a person. I find myself classified as a “law breaker” and equated with Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden. It is, to say the least, not conducive to a productive discussion.
As a result of this happening more than a few times, I am preparing this post of a few words from several of my fellow scofflaws. I may be an incorrigible miscreant, but it appears that I am in fine company:
“Laws do not persuade just because they threaten.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
“An unjust law is no law at all.” — Saint Augustine, On Free Choice Of The Will
“When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” — Frederick Bastiat
“Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim — when he defends himself — as a criminal.” — Frederic Bastiat, The Law
“It is not, what a lawyer tells me I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tells me I ought to do.” — Edmund Burke
“Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.” — Edmund Burke
“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” — Thomas Jefferson
“Every actual state is corrupt. Good men must not obey laws too well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.” — Thomas Brackett Reed, 1886
“Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness.” — Calvin Coolidge
“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” — Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (1957)
“We can 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 Birmingham Jail (16 April, 1963)
“Just as it is the duty of all men to obey just laws, so it is the duty of all men to disobey unjust laws.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
“All that is good is not embodied in the law; and all that is evil is not proscribed by the law. A well-disciplined society needs few laws; but it needs strong mores.” — William F. Buckley
“The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of it’s enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law, and no courts are bound to enforce it.” — 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256
All quotations sourced from Famous Quote – Quotes on Law.