Philosophy of Law
Thomas Aquinas argues that laws are valid only if they are just. In addition, St. Augustine’s dictum denotes that any item that is not just cannot be lawful. The case by Thomas and Augustine is the one where Martin Luther King, Jr. induces to disagree with segregation ordinance issues (Green 572). Moreover, Luther considers the apartheid ordinances to be morally wrong and, thus, calls Americans to disobey the laws that supported the segregations of the black. He believes that the laws can only be just if they are enshrined in natural and external laws. The paper explores how a subject can fail because some individuals believe it to be unjust and immoral. It also explains whether the jailing of King for breaking the laws that he assumed to be unfair demonstrates that the unjust laws are still laws. Besides, the work also analyses if good judges can endorse unjust laws. Lastly, the research investigates if John Marshall Court upheld the unjust law in the case of The Antelope (Lyons 103).
According to Green, Alex (573), an unjust law refers to an act that contradicts with the moral laws; at the same time, the just law is in agreements with the law of morality. Natural law theory is the basis of Augustine and Aquinas argument according to Luther. The theory suggests that a relation between morality and law exists. Additionally, the natural law concept states that the enacted legislation should conform to moral philosophies. Augustine’s argument advocates that no legally binding standards conflict with the natural edicts. Secondly, he suggests that all the laws that are valid develop authority from the natural law. Nevertheless, legal positivism opposes the notion that a law ceases to be a law when some individuals believe it is immoral (Marmor, 94). The basis of the theory of legal positivism consists of such three hypothetical commitments as the convention, the social fact, and the separable thesis. The separable thesis argues that there is no theoretical similarity between the concepts of laws of morality, whereas the detachable theory denies Luther’s argument that seeks to overlap morality and law.
The fact that the jailing of Luther occurred because of breaking the rules that he alleged to be unjust proves that unjust laws are still laws. Consequently, the paper agrees that a law that is unjust is still a law, and it is the moral responsibility of every citizen to obey it regardless of its details. The moral and practical verdict determines whether the person will follow or break the rules (Tropp 54). Evidently, the segregation ordinance is morally wrong, and King was right to disagree with its espousal as a law. However, human legislation that conflicts with the divine law is binding and has over time been enforced as laws by the jurisdictive tribunals.
Undoubtedly, good judges can endorse or nullify unjust laws. If the judge finds the law to be immoral or unfair, they can acquit the defendants. Moreover, the decision by the judge depends on their interpretation of the law. Hart’s citation from “Province of Jurisprudence Determined” by John Austin states that the presence of law is one thing while its advantage or disadvantage is another. In addition, Austin believed that law and morality are distinct and that all human-made law can be outlined back to anthropoid lawmakers (Green 574). The argument is known as legal positivism in the philosophy of law. As a result, Austin’s argument defers with Sir William Blackstone’s commentaries that argue that the Lord’s law is greater in duty compared to all other laws. John Austin’s case conforms to the school of thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. Thus, they support natural law theory over legal positivism theory.
Furthermore, Austin’s case does not offer sovereignty in democratic societies. It also suggests that autonomous legislative authority is inept of a legal check. Austin suggests that the citizens should either abstain or do specific actions whether they like it or not. The paper finds it hard to reconcile the argument by Austin with the constitution of democratic nations because the constitutional requirements limit the authority of the jurisdictive body to make such laws (Marmor 95). Therefore, the paper concludes that there is a success from the struggle for democracy and the fight against segregation ordinances by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Schauer 125).
During John Marshall’s Court ruling, the judge did not espouse the unjust law in the case of the Antelope. The Antelope is the full name of a case heard in the Supreme Court of the United States. It is the first instance when a court made a decision on the legality of the global slave trade. The U.S. had passed the acts that outlawed slave trade in 1808. However, Chief Justice John Marshall held that the international law permitted the trade. According to Lyons, J. Michael (103), the court ordered the surviving slaves to return to Africa at the expense of the U.S. government. Finally, the paper discovered that the judge did not uphold the unjust laws. The judge prioritized the slaves’ rights to freedom as opposed to the country’s right of property or possessing the slaves.
To sum up, the jailing of King for breaking the laws that he assumed to be unjust demonstrates that a law that is unjust is still a law, and it is the moral responsibility of every citizen to obey it. Moreover, the judges can endorse or nullify the unjust laws taking into consideration their interpretation. Finally, regarding the case of the Antelope, this time the judge did not advocate the unjust law in such a way supporting the slaves’ right to freedom.
Stare decisis is a Latin word that means decided things (Slobogin 14). It refers to the doctrine of precedent. Stare decisis occurs when the issue has been brought to the court previously, and a ruling by the tribunal exists. The principle operates both vertically and horizontally. Horizontal stare decisis occurs when the court adheres to the precedent while parallel takes place applying high court precedence. According to Slobogin, Christopher (15), the California Supreme Court decided the case of People v. Anderson (1968) by precedence. The paper seeks to explain the reliance of the court or its extrication of the following previous decisions: People v. Stroble (1951), and People v. Grandos (1957) to settle the case of People v. Anderson (1968). The research will indicate any agreement or disagreement that may exist to the degree of correspondence between the cases or the quality and quantity of the evidence. Moreover, the study will also highlight the reason for concurring with the majority in Anderson and rebelling against one of the opinions. Further, it will discuss the California Penal Code Section 189 and its application to this study (Slobogin 16).
In California Penal Code Section 189, death is considered to be first-degree if the killing is premeditated, willful, and deliberate. In three cases, the death doesn’t qualify to be of the first degree as there is no satisfactory proof to conclude that the perpetrator committed the murder willfully, deliberately or premeditating the actions (Marmor 94). A guilty person did not make an attempt of rape, arson, burglary, robbery or mayhem. Hence, the form of murder falls under the second degree.
In Tropp, Linda R. (57), the plaintiff is the state while the defendant is Mr. Anderson. Anderson was accused of slaying of a teenager of the age of 10 known as Victoria. The court found him sane and guilty according to the first degree of slaying. In the result, death as the punishment for the offender was imposed. The second trial did not change the facts. Therefore, the court pleaded the defendant sane and guilty with the same sentence. Finally, after the second trial, the appeal was automatic.
During the appeal, the defendants correctly disagreed that his case met three types of evidence to support the first-degree murder. Firstly, there was no evidence of facts concerning prior affiliation with the victims that suggested that the defendants had a motive that would reflect contemplation. Secondly, there was no proof what the accused did preceding the actual murder to illustrate that the culprit was involved in a task focused towards the actual killing (Marmor 94). Lastly, there was no evidence regarding the nature of the homicide showing the defendants intentionally killing the victims according to a predetermined design. Due to lack of three types of evidence, the judgment was modified from the first-degree homicide to the second-degree massacre.
In the case of People v. Stroble (1951), the defendant had been convicted of slaying a girl aged 6. The court sentenced him for the first degree killing and condemned to death (Slobogin 17). The defendant argued that there was a deficiency of evidence as it did not show deliberation and contemplation in the act. Thus, the case did not qualify the California Penal Code Section 189 requirements to be considered as a first-degree murder. The argument is similar to People v. Anderson (1968), and it may have formed the basis of precedence according to the rule of stare decisis. However, the difference between the cases was that the defendant was coerced to make confession in People v. Stroble case (Schauer 122). There was also interference by the District Attorney through seditious newspaper reports.
In the case of People v. Granados (1957), the judgment proclaimed Oscar Maldonado Granados guilty of the first-degree murder. The defendant had killed a young girl Elvira aged 13. His defended himself stating that he had head damage while he was a child that made him temporarily blind. In the result, he did not have any memories. The court heard that there was an adequate evidence to withstand the finding of an unlawful killing of a human being with harm, which institutes a murder crime. Nevertheless, there is a total absence of evidence that the perpetrator desecrated section 189 of the Penal Code (Marmor 95). According to Schauer, Frederick (121), the verdict of murder of the first degree is modified finding the offender guilt-ridden of the second slaying degree as prescribed by the law.
In conclusion, neither of three cases analyzed above belonged to the first degree cases. In case of People v. Anderson, due to the lack of evidence, the case was regarded as the second degree massacre. The case of People v. Stroble was decided according to the similar scheme although the accused had to make a confession. Finally, regarding the third case, it also gained the second degree murder crime, although the evidence of desecrating section 180 of the Penal Code by the defendant was not present.