LS 490 Final Paper apap proofed Ronald Blair
LS 490 Final Paper apap proofed Ronald Blair
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Running head: LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 1 Legal Philosophy Final Paper Ronald Blair LS 490 April 14, 2015 Professor Jane McElligott LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 2 Legal Philosophy Final Paper I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor (George Wallace) having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothersMartin Luther King Jr ("U.S Constitution.net", 2014). In Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream…” speech and George Wallace’s inaugural speech as governor there was polar opposite views on segregation and discrimination. The following will analyze the content of both speeches and compare the author’s views on the legitimacy of positive law versus natural law, a subject’s duty to obey the law, the harm to others principle, and finally the role morality should play in the aims of law. Overview Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and civil rights activist. As an activist he was critical in ending the legal segregation of AfricanAmericans in the US, as well as, being credited with establishment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Additionally, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial. This speech emphasized the continued struggle of African Americans due to racism and segregation, peaceful nonviolent opposition, and the ultimate goal of peace, acceptance, and equal rights. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April 1968, while outside his motel room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee by James Earl Ray ("Biography.com", 2014). LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 3 George Wallace was born August 25, 1919, in Clio. He graduated from University of Alabama School of Law in 1942. After law school he served in the US Air Force. George Wallace then served as an assistant to the state attorney general, an Alabama State Legislator, and a judge in the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Alabama. This culminated into a career in politics in which he served four terms as Alabama governor, and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. presidency three times. He was backed by the Klu Klux Klan and ran on a platform of racial segregation. During his inaugural speech as governor he cemented his position on segregation, the recent supreme court decision in Brown v. Department of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), and ended his famous speech with "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" ("Biography.com", 2014). Brown v. Department of Education was a landmark United States Supreme Court that was a huge victory for civil rights that enabled integration and ended segregation. The Supreme Court declared (90) that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. This decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), which allowed states to segregate black and white students. The court stated "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Which resulted in, de jure racial segregation, which was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The legitimacy of positive law versus natural law The mindset of the south during this time mirrors the beliefs during the time of Plessey v. Fergusson. In the 58 years between the rulings in this case and the ruling in Brown, little has LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 4 changed in the mindset of the south. Furthermore, little had changed in attitudes and beliefs of southern whites after the Brown ruling. This is demonstrated by Wallace as he criticizes the Supreme Court’s decision as being “the first time in American history to issue an edict not based on precedent” ("Alabama.gov", p.6, 2014). He insinuates that the beliefs in his state are different from the north and his state has the right to hold on to these beliefs, and this right was granted by our forefathers. “This is the exact reason our freedom loving forefathers established the states, so as to divide the rights and powers among the many states” ("Alabama.gov", p.8, 2014). The beliefs of the whites of this time were that blacks did not deserve the same status of whites; they were not entitled to the same rights or to be treated with the same level of dignity. This was the custom, which was also a normative social rule. According to Hart (hard positivism) this is possible because there are no moral constraints on law and laws can be unjust or immoral. Additionally, these customs or social norms “possessed tremendous inertia…(which had) their start in prejudice and ignorance” (Murphy, p.278, 2014). At one time, these beliefs which were prevalent in the south, appeared to have its place, but as time and attitudes changed, people needed to change. This is difficult with social norms because it requires almost everyone in that society to change its mind. This was the belief of Martin Luther King Jr that the laws were unjust, and this injustice contributed to the thoughts and beliefs of the white citizenry, and led to civil rights violations. These social norms or has Hart puts it “Normative social rules” were at heart of the matter. MLK’s view was more in line with Natural Law Theory. Natural law theory is that there is a morality test that laws must pass before they can be considered valid laws. Natural law theorists LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 5 assert that “it is a necessary truth that morality enters into the determination of what the law is … morality constrains legality (in order to be law, norms must be … morally acceptable)” (Murphy, 2007, p. 36). Aquinas’s definition of Natural law is that “Law is an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by one who has care of the community, and promulgated” (Murphy, p. 38). “Law is an ordinance of reason” means that the law sets forth a “rational standard for conduct” for “rational beings” to follow (Murphy, p. 38). Law governs group conduct and the law is for the common good of all members of the group (which would include African Americans). The one charged with the care of the community is the one with authority to determine the standard all members of the group must follow. This last sentence could apply to the lack of care George Wallace had for all members, or the level of care the Supreme Court displayed in its ruling in Brown. Finally, Aquinas asserts that a law that is unreasonable is not a law at all, even though it has been validly passed by the legislature or issued by the sovereign. A subject’s duty to obey the law John Rawls’s “principle of fair play” is the theory that those who occupy the role of subject in a “reasonably just society are bound to obey the law” (Murphy, p.59, 2014). Rawls uses the example of social cooperation, where each person requires a certain sacrifice or a constraint on liberty. When everyone does this they share in the reward, and the benefit of living under rule of law. When someone does not cooperate they are taking advantage of the others. This person is violating their duty of fair play. LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 6 Martin Luther King Jr asked that everyone cooperate and to engage in peaceful demonstrations and that “we must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline, we must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence.” He also recognized everyone’s sacrifices and burdens when he mentioned everyone’s trials and tribulations, recent jail cells, and being ”battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality” ("U.S Constitution.net", 2014). Yet when he was questioned prior to this speech regarding his nonviolent demonstrations and marches, and how he can advocate breaking some laws and obeying others, he stated he advocated obeying just laws, but not those that are unjust. In his letter from the Birmingham Jail, MLK stated he agreed with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all. “Sometimes legal norms are so unfair or so unwise, that disobedience is the only appropriate response” (Murphy, 2007, p. 63). When this happens, according to Henry David Thoreau disobedience to law is acceptable. “If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1849. Governor Wallace also believed in civil disobedience and not following laws that are unjust. He believed Brown was unjust. He demonstrated this by participating in blocking the doors at a school to prevent two black students from entering. This resulted in the National being deployed to help the students gain access. (Research more) He also stated the south will stand up and fight against the communist amalgamation (desegregation). He believed it was a god given right and a right given to us by our forefathers to live separate, separate in religion, separate in politics, and separate in race. (But warn those of any group.) LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 7 Harm to others principle as justification for his views John Stuart Mill first had to define what harm was, which he then came up with three different ways. The first way to harm someone would be an action “that directly diminishes another’s wellbeing, that sets another’s interest back in some way” (Murphy, p.84, 2014). The second way to harm someone is the “failure to perform some obligations that one has to an identifiable person” (Murphy, p.84, 2014). Finally the third way is a “failure to perform one’s share of what is required for a decent common life in society” (Murphy, p.84, 2014). It is obvious to most that racism, discrimination, and segregation, directly diminishes the wellbeing of AfricanAmericans. Furthermore, it is obvious that it sets back their interests. Society has an obligation to treat all members with the same respect and dignity, and to protect all members’ civil rights. Failure to perform these duties results in the decay of common life in society. In its entirety, Martin Luther King speech demonstrates the harm that discrimination and segregation has had on the AfricanAmerican community. Additionally, George Wallace’s speech speaks of the harm that he wishes on the African American community through segregation. The role morality should play in determining the aims of law According to our textbook, “Lawmaking cannot influence the course of a society’s moral consciousness (Murphy, p.98, 2014) on the flipside Murphy states “legislation can make the difference, whether for good or for ill and the content of social morality” (p. 98, 2014). Murphy stated in his book, “to force someone to act morally is like forcing someone to volunteer” LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 8 (Murphy, p.99, 2014). The student agrees with the statement, “you cannot legislate morality,” but legislation can influence morality of society. The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown, struck down segregation, in the long run did promote morality and justice in a positive way. Conclusion In conclusion, In Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech and George Wallace’s inaugural speech as governor there were polar opposite views on segregation and discrimination. The content of both speeches demonstrated the differing views on the legitimacy of positive law versus natural law, a subject’s duty to obey the law, the harm to others principle, and finally the role morality should play in the aims of law. The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown had an obvious impact on segregation and discrimination, and did bring about morality and justice in a positive way. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and George Wallace played a role in ending segregation. MLK raised awareness, while George Wallace’s extreme views demonstrated the ugly side of racism, segregation, and discrimination. LEGAL PHILOSOPHY FINAL PAPER 9 References Alabama.Gov. (2014). Retrieved from http://digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm/ref/collection/voices/id/2952 Biography.com. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/georgewallace 9522367#governorofalabama Biography.com. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/martinlutherkingjr 9365086#ihaveadream Murphy, M. C. (2014). Philosophy of Law Fundamentals. Retrieved from The Kaplan University ebookcollection. U.S. Constitution.net. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.usconstitution.net/dream.html
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