What Law Governs Us? (cont.)
- M.E. Boyd, Esq., “Miss Constitution”
Last week I explained to you the four bundles of law that govern us. They are: positive law, natural law, moral law, and unwritten law. This week an incident occurred that highlights all four bundles in one incident.
At an abortion clinic in Philadelphia a silent prayer protest was being held outside the clinic by a mother, a couple of teenagers, and another woman. This silent protest is protected from government interference by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution, a form of POSITIVE LAW. We were treated on several newscasts to a video made by an elected representative of the Pennsylvania legislature showing him “shaming” these silent protestors, making racial slurs, and threatening exposure of the children. If he was acting on behalf of the state of Pennsylvania as a government actor he was in clear violation of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution in interfering in an improper way with the protesters right of assembly and speech. In this case their silence was a form of speech.
He broke other laws as well. He broke the most important bundle of law we have in our culture and that is UNWRITTEN LAW. This law requires that we show each other courtesy and respect and that we evidence general good will towards all people. You are not allowed to be rude; to interfere with a person’s liberty to be at a certain place at a certain time; to verbally shame helpless people or “get in their face” or use obscenities just because you do not agree with them regarding public policy. Not only does it violate UNWRITTEN LAW it is a type of common-law assault. What you are allowed to do is state your own position regarding a policy issue and/or stage your own peaceful protest as long as it is in the proper forum and complies with time, place, manner, and safety restrictions.
This brings us to the nature of what the adults and teenagers were protesting about. What they were protesting about was the abortions that they think go on in that clinic. The issue of abortion brings into play the two other bundles of law that we live under and those are MORAL LAW and NATURAL LAW. NATURAL LAW is the law that undergirds the Declaration of Independence and posits that there are unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that apply to one’s existence and are not a “gift” from government. The question becomes “what does the word ‘life’ mean exactly and when may a government take a life without violating natural law?
MORAL LAW is what is right and what is wrong and in our society we define right and wrong by the tenets of our Judeo-Christian heritage. MORAL LAW tells us what behaviors are to be punished by our society and what behaviors are to be encouraged. The issue of abortion has been a very difficult one and was, at one time, left to each state to tackle. In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Roe v. Wade decided that the question, “What is life?” is answered by acknowledging two lives, the life of the mother and the life of the child. In its ruling it weighted the interests of both at different times in the pregnancy giving preference to the mother in the first part of the pregnancy and to the child at the end. This is a very difficult issue and we have struggled with it as a society for some time
The point of this column is not to discuss or debate the issue of abortion but to show you that our four bundles of law are not theoretical they are real and come in to play every day of our lives. Every day we can each choose good manners and courtesy and honor UNWRITTEN LAW. Every day we can debate and make our opinions known regarding public policy issues in the right way under the POSITIVE LAW of the United States Constitution. Every day we can remember that every person in our society has an equal right to life, and liberty, and to pursue his or her own happiness within the boundaries of the other bundles of law. All decisions made by each of us carry with them an ethical or moral component. In letting people live their own lives and in wrapping our own decisions in ethics we are honoring NATURAL and MORAL LAW.
The incident illuminated above in Philadelphia is a very important red flag for us. Efforts to dismantle our system do not start with the hardest bundle of law to tackle, which is probably POSITIVE LAW, it starts with the easiest to tackle and that is probably UNWRITTEN LAW. If we let rudeness slide; if there is no rejection and accountability for this type of law-breaking; then rudeness and chaos becomes acceptable and the next bundle is attacked. The state legislator who made this video needs to face some kind of accountability. It can take the form of rejection and avoidance but there must be a reaction to what he did. His speech is not protected by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution it is simply rude and discourteous. Our Constitutional law allows us to state public policy views of any content but those views must be stated courteously, without obscenity, and without violence.
One woman in the video, who was racially slurred, is seen turning her head and trying to hide as she is being attacked. Is this not the same thing we have seen hundreds of times in the 1930’s and 1940’s as Jews were verbally humiliated until the citizens of several countries accepted this violation of UNWRITTEN LAW as “normal”? Was not the easiest law destroyed first to get to the harder law?
Miss Constitution is ever hopeful that we are teaching the four bundles of law and their application to our precious children in schools all across our nation.
Copyright©2019 by M.E. Boyd, Esq., Miss Constitution