Rule of Law

Thus, the value is Justice, defined as giving each their due. Randy E. Barnett law professor at Georgetown University Law Center writes

Moreover, this assumption views legal precepts as distinct from and at least sometimes opposed to the requirements of justice. However, the analysis presented here offers a quite different picture of this relationship. Justice, at least in its first derivation, is extremely abstract and general. For justice to be brought to bear effectively on individual decision, specific legal precepts are needed to guide conduct. Such precepts are the necessary means by which just results or ends are to be achieved in practice, and they are also the means by which persons decide how to act justly so as to avoid a dispute that requires resolution. Most importantly, perhaps, this objection to the use of legal precepts assumes that persons deciding how to act or judges deciding how to resolve a dispute have access (independent of legal precepts) to a conception of justice that is specific enough to decide the outcomes of disputes. Where this assumption is false and a conception of justice, such as one based on natural rights, does not provide specific enough guidance, as is commonly the case, legal precepts are the inescapable means of putting the abstract requirements of justice into practice. Where this assumption holds true and abstract natural rights do recommend for or against certain conduct, legal precepts generally have no difficulty mirroring the requirements of justice. Where the just result is very clear and a legal precept violates it, this is an argument for changing or refining the precept at issue, not discarding the use of precepts altogether. Indeed, as I explained in Chapter 1, the primary function of background natural rights is, to provide a means of evaluating and reforming legal rights.

Simply put, justice is a broad and abstract subject, and for it to have any meaning it must be codified in law. These legal precepts spell out what is and isn’t just and allows us to achieve justice. Thus, in order to achieve justice, we must follow the law. Thus, in order to achieve justice, the value criterion must be consistent with the rule of law.

There are three additional reasons to prefer my value criterion:

First, not enforcing the laws, even if perceived as unjust robs justice of meaning, and likely creates more unjust outcomes. While there are occasionally unjust laws, the vast majority of laws are just. When we give the power to individuals, or the state to decide that only certain laws are worthy of enforcement, we can lead to just laws not being enforced. This leads to injustices. For example, imagine that a racist police chief chooses not to enforce laws against lynching black people.

Second, failing to enforce the law violates the social contract individuals have with the state. Individuals give up freedoms for protection from the state, Hatfield explains

Before actually looking at “demand” a knowledge and understanding of the basic function of societies, government and law needs to be developed. To put it in a nutshell, all societies and their governments have a responsibility, obligation and duty to promote certain behaivors and ban other types of behavior [through the law] of its individual citizens. If it were not to do this, society as a whole would breakdown and fall into the abyss of anarchy. As Hobbes put it, “Life becomes short, nasty and brutish.” Given this scenario, the U.S. and State governments have used their legitimate power and authority to ban a ceratin behavior (drug usage and production) as counter-productive and not in the interest of society as a whole. Setting up a social policy enforced by law and the courts.

Finally, the purpose of the government is to enact and enforce laws. Pearson explains

The main purpose of government is to create and enforce a society’s public policies. Public Policies cover such matters as defense, crime, taxation, and much more. Governments must have power in order to make and carry out public policies. Every government has and exercises three basic kinds of power: legislative, executive, and judicial. Legislative refers to the power to make laws. Executive refers to the power to enforce laws. Judicial refers to the power to interpret laws. These powers of government are often outlined in a nation’s constitution, or body of fundamental laws. Different forms of government exercise their powers in different

Thus, consistency with rule of law is necessary to protect rights and for the government to fulfill its own obligations.

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