Chapter I
The Reign of Law

1.1 Man’s Subjection To Law

All kingdoms have a law given;

And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.

And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.

All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.

(D&C 88:36-39)

      Universally man is subject to the reign of law. In reality he lives in subjection to two sets of laws — those man-made and those existing naturally. This book is devoted primarily to a study of man-made law. However, since natural law reigns supreme in every field, including that of political science, it is appropriate that we commence with a recognition of those natural laws which govern in this field. Indeed, without a knowledge of such laws, the intelligent use of manmade laws would be impossible. Justification for this conclusion lies in the fact that men cannot use their intelligence to solve problems in any field of inquiry, unless those natural laws which govern in that field are understood. Let us pursue this thought by defining natural law and then observing that the use of intelligence is dependent upon its existence.

1.2 Definition Of Natural Law

      The term “natural law” is used herein to mean a statement of an unvarying relationship between cause and effect. It is a description of change which, according to all that is known, will invariably follow a given cause. Thus natural laws constitute that entire body of laws which exist independently of man. Their operation is unrelated to the will of democratic majorities, the enactments of legislatures or the decrees of monarchs. They are above and beyond man. He is [p. 2] powerless to alter or affect them in any way. His ignorance of them, his refusal to accept them or his mistaken beliefs regarding how they function have not the slightest effect upon their operation. The only way he can obtain the results which are predicated upon obedience is to learn and obey them.

      Civilized man realizes that he lives in a universe governed by immutable, inexorable natural laws. He has learned that to accomplish any given result he must discover and precisely obey the laws upon which that result depends. If he complies partially or imperfectly, he may expect no more than a partial or an imperfect result. Nor is natural law any respecter of persons. It affects everyone the same. No matter in what age or country one lives, to obtain a result he must comply with a law.

      The reign of law in the physical world is not questioned by intelligent people. Scientists as well as others have proved over and over again the unvarying nature of the rules which govern changes relating to energy and matter such as the laws of gravity, electricity and thermodynamics. All reliable evidence proves the existence of immutable laws in the physical world and nothing man has observed has disproved their existence. Therefore, they are taken for granted. The large sums of money spent on research is evidence of man’s faith in the reign of law. By conducting such research he tries to discover new laws which he assumes to exist and which he knows he must obey to accomplish his purposes. Never yet has he been disappointed in his assumption that natural law governs in the physical world.

1.3 The Use Of Intelligence Dependent Upon Natural Law

And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

(2 Nephi 2:13) [p. 3]

      Intelligence has been defined as: “The ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action toward a desired goal.” Using this definition we might define intelligent conduct as “compliance with law to obtain a desired goal.” But one cannot work toward a goal unless he can foresee the consequences of his action; and one cannot foresee the consequences of his actions unless natural laws exist which decree that the same results will follow the same causes. From this we must conclude that intelligent conduct is possible only in the presence of natural law. Only where one can predict the consequences of what he does can he “guide action toward a desired goal.” Where law prevails and is understood, one is able to predetermine the results which will flow from any given course of conduct and thus choose that course which will accomplish his purposes.

      The necessity for natural law is also evident by recognizing that without it there could be no human freedom. When one exercises freedom he chooses between alternatives. This means that he elects to accept the consequences which flow from pursuing one course of action while rejecting those which would result from another. But unless natural laws exist which predetermine the consequences he is choosing between, he could not anticipate them; therefore, a choice would be impossible.

      It is difficult, if not impossible to visualize an environment in which law does not exist. But if such were possible, chaos would reign. Nothing could be depended upon to happen the same way twice. Past events and conditions would bear no relation to future occurrences. Man could not survive in such an environment. Being unable to foresee the results of his actions he could not feed and clothe himself. Memory, judgment, knowledge, foresight, reason and other qualities of the mind would be of no avail. In the absence of law, intelligent conduct would be impossible and intelligence unusable.

1.4 Natural Law In The Field Of Government

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated.

And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. [p. 4]

It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.

(D&C 130:20, 21; 131:6)

      Does the conclusion that intelligence cannot be exercised in the absence of natural law apply in the field of government? That is, in adopting man-made laws to achieve a given purpose is it essential to discover and obey certain laws before the attainment of that purpose is possible? While the supremacy of law in the physical realm is generally accepted, there may be those who question its existence in the area of human relations. But as has been demonstrated above, if natural law does not prevail here, the conscious achievement of goals in this field is impossible. Unless we proceed under the assumption that natural laws exist which enable us to set goals for our lawmaking and work toward them, it is idle to study the subject.

      Obedience to law is the sum of intelligent existence. Anyone who assumes that there is no need to learn and obey the natural laws of some particular field such as government has, in effect, concluded that it is impossible to work toward goals in that field. Man is continually striving to bring about change; but every change occurs in strict accordance with law. Therefore to produce any desired change, whether in the physical world or in our political and social affairs, those laws which govern its occurrence must be discovered and obeyed. This constitutes the purpose of intelligent life.

1.5 Supremacy Of Natural Law Over Manmade Law Long Recognized

Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.

Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.

(Mosiah 29: 11, 25)

      The proposition that natural law controls in all areas, including that of government has long been recognized by the sages, prophets and great thinkers of the past. The people of the Old Testament [p. 5] regarded God as the Source of their civil laws. The Ten Commandments which came to them through their prophet, Moses (Ex. 20), constituted the essence of their legal code and was enforced among the people just as civil laws are enforced by governments today. Even the penalties which were imposed for violation were accepted by them as having been divinely revealed (Deut. 5:1-33). To the Israelites, the laws of God and the laws of nature were one and the same-immutable, inexorable and eternal.

      The notion that there is a law of nature which emanates from God and governs political activities had its advocates among the Romans. Cicero, a statesman and orator of some stature, proclaimed his acceptance of this belief in the following passage:

Of all these things respecting which learned men dispute there is none more important than clearly to understand that we are born for justice, and that right is founded not in opinion but in nature. There is indeed a true law (lex), right reason, agreeing with nature and diffused among all, unchanging, everlasting, which calls to duty by commanding, deters from wrong by forbidding... It is not allowable to alter this law nor to deviate from it. Nor can it be abrogated. Nor can we be released from this law either by the senate or by the people. Nor is any person required to explain or interpret it. Nor is it one law at Rome and another at Athens, one law today and another thereafter; but the same law, everlasting and unchangeable, will bind all nations and all times; and there will be one common Lord and Ruler of all, even God, the framer and proposer of this law. (De Legibus 11, 4, 10)

      Accompanying and following the Reformation, the doctrine of a supreme and controlling law of nature found acceptance and reiteration by recognized authorities in the fields of social and political science. The English philosopher, John Locke, sometimes called “the intellectual ruler of the eighteenth century,” had this to say in his Second Essay Concerning Civil Government which made its appearance around 1689:

Thus the law of Nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well others. The rules that they make for other men’s actions, must... be conformable to the law of Nature — i.e., to the will of God, of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law of Nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good or valid against it. (Second Essay Concerning Civil Government, Para. 135) [p. 6]

      Sir William Blackstone, a famous English jurist, and one of the best legal minds in any country, wrote this in his Commentaries on the Laws of England published in 1765:

Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator... This will of his Maker is called the law of nature... This law of nature, being co-eval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority, mediately and immediately, from thus original... Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say no human laws should be suffered to contradict these. ... nay, if any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit it, we are bound to transgress that human law, or else we offend both the natural and the divine. (Vol. I, pp. 41-43)

      It is generally conceded that both Locke and Blackstone wielded an immense influence on the thinking of the men who established the United States Constitutional system of government. Certainly these “Founding Fathers” believed in the supremacy of natural law. The Declaration of Independence is itself an affrmation of the view that natural law is superior to the authority of civil rulers. In this document the doctrine of the “Law of Nature” is transmuted into the doctrine of the “unalienable rights of man” the essence of which is contained in the following excerpt:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.. . (Declaration of Independence)

      The thought here expressed, that men possess from their Creator certain unalienable rights which government should protect but never deny, is a statement of the Natural Law concept in slightly different form. Here, as in the other quotes, it is asserted that there are natural limitations on the power of civil rulers. Deviation from these natural laws (or the protection of natural rights) is not allowable. But [p. 7] if such does occur it is the right of the people to abolish their government and replace it with one which exercises only those powers rightfully possessed.

      In the foregoing quotes the authors have not only asserted the supremacy of natural law in the field of government, but have taken the position that such natural laws are religious or moral in nature. This may seem strange to some. Let us, by defining man-made laws and observing how they are enforced, demonstrate that not only is it proper to require man-made laws to conform to natural moral law, but that it is contrary to all logic when they fail to do so.

1.6 Man-Made Law

      A man-made law is a rule of human conduct prescribed by the state and enforced by an adequate penalty for disobedience. It is an enactment by government which forbids the individual to do as he pleases in the matter regulated and threatens him with physical punishment if he disobeys. The penalty provided in the law directs the officers of government to punish the offender in one or more of three ways:

(1)       Inflict injury on his body including death;

(2)       Deprive him of his liberty by imprisonment or some other restraint;

(3)       Deprive him of his property.

      A law may be mandatory in that it commands the individual to take some affirmative action such as pay taxes or serve in the armed forces; or it may be prohibitive in that it forbids murder, robbery, arson or some other act. There are two essential parts to every manmade law: (1) The regulation of human conduct; (if it does not do this there is nothing to obey) (2) A penalty for disobedience; (if no penalty is imposed one is as free to do as he pleases after the law is passed as before). As was stated by Hamilton in the Federalist Papers:

Government implies the power of making laws. It is essential to the idea of law, that it be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. If there be no penalty annexed for disobedience, the resolutions or commands which pretend to be laws will, in fact, amount to nothing more than advice or recommendation. (Fed. Papers #15) [p. 8]

1.7 Civil Laws Are Moral Laws

And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people; and they saw that their laws had become corrupted, and that they had become a wicked people, insomuch that they were wicked even like unto the Lamanites.

For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted. (Helaman 4:22; 5:2)

      The foregoing analysis indicates that man-made laws are essentially moral laws because their enforcement involves the taking of human life, liberty or property rights. Governments act legally only in accordance with law. But every law regulates human conduct by commanding or forbidding certain actions and directing the executive arm to execute, jail or fine those who disobey. Indeed the only reason for adopting a law is to compel those to obey it who would not do so unless threatened with violence. Thus, every law affects at least one of those three possessions which men value above all others. If the law is obeyed out of fear, then freedom is affected by the threat of violence. If the law is violated, then either freedom, life, or property is taken as punishment.

      But there is no question which has greater moral implications than that of determining when it is proper to deprive a human being of his life, his liberty, or the means by which he sustains life and exercises liberty. Therefore, civil laws are moral laws by very definition. Those natural laws then which control in the field of political science constitute a moral code. The man-made laws which should conform thereto are also a code of moral behavior. [p. 9]

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