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Thursday, October 07, 2021

How Important is the Rule of Law?

In some prior posts, I mentioned that I am finally writing an article on FDR's Constitution Day Address in 1937. I've been interested in this speech for years but unsure about how to approach the issues he raised there. Now I have a better sense on that point.

The question posed by Roosevelt's speech is why do democratic constitutions fail, which is a topic now attracting considerable attention due to democracy's decline around the world since the peak in the 1990s. You could answer this question in different ways. One is cultural. In effect, you need to develop a culture that supports democracy or harness cultural forces that can be supportive. Here you can look at Alexis de Toqueville and civil society, or Walter Bagehot and the idea of constitutional monarchy. Another answer is that the rule of law is indispensable to constitutional success. If you don't have a strong legal culture, the rest doesn't matter. (I'm not quite sure who is the best authority to cite here--perhaps readers have thoughts.)

FDR instead argued that democratic constitutions fail if they are inflexible and do not provide people with a growing standard of living. In other words, it's an entirely pragmatic explanation. He based his claims in part on the failures of the post-World War One democracies in Europe, though he also made them to advance his own domestic agenda. He said little about culture, except to acknowledge the vital role that civil liberties play in the Anglo-American tradition. And he definitely did not think the rule of law was the cause. Indeed, the speech is famous for its dismissive tone towards lawyers who are labelled, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the problem and not the answer.

This brings me to the present. How important is the rule of law for a democratic constitution? Is constitutional democracy in retreat due to culture, legal culture, or the failure to generate economic results? More on this in the next post. 

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on October 7, 2021 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

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“How Important is the Rule of Law?

I suppose if it were True that it is Loving and Merciful to desire that we remain in our sins, and not desire to overcome our disordered inclinations, we would have no need for Our Savior, Jesus The Christ, The Word Of Perfect Love Incarnate.
We can know through both Faith and reason, that Only The Truth Of Love can set us free, and lead us to Salvation.
Following The Rule of Law is necessary if we truly desire The Common Good.

God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (See Treaty Of Paris, which ended The Revolutionary War, “In The Name Of The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity) Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage.

If Constitutional Democracy is in retreat, it is because of those who desire to render onto Caesar, or themselves, what Has Always and Will Always belong to God, and have voted, in essence, to deny the self-evident Truth that our inherent, Unalienable Rights have been endowed to us from God, not from Caesar, John Locke, or King John.

Salvational History has revealed that every time man has denied Divine Law, and thus our inherent Unalienable Right to Life, To Liberty, and To The Pursuit Of Happiness, anything can become permissible and all hell can break loose.

There is a difference between a Constitutional Democracy that desires Heaven, and one that desires Hell, and that difference makes all the difference when it comes to Perfect Life-affirming and Life-sustaining Love.

https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/papal-magisterium-natural-law-and-humanae-vitae-10374

Posted by: N.D. | Oct 7, 2021 12:36:21 PM

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