The Just Law Amendment
The United States is a republic where the duty of legislation is delegated to a small group of citizens elected by the rest. The laws the people are subject to are not a direct product of public will and sometimes are not the product of public interest. Most laws are inherited where even if the present day representatives legislating did represent 100% of the people’s will and interest, most laws existed prior to the people alive today being born. Whether modern creations or inheritance, the people of this country have very little input into the laws that they are to be governed by.
Why do we have laws? The human constant is liberty. At all times and in all settings all people want to do what they want to do. All people can do as they please so long as each individual’s actions do not interfere with the liberty of anyone else. We have laws and use our collective resources to enforce laws because in the prevention of imposition we are freer with laws than we are without them. Every law should prevent more imposition than it imposes.
There are many laws that can be shown definitively not to prevent imposition. A simple example would be seat belt laws. Why is a seatbelt law unjust? Because the act of a person not wearing their seatbelt does not create a risk for anyone other than the person choosing not to wear the device. No one is less safe other than the individual who should be free to assume the risk. A law requiring a person to wear a seatbelt imposes without preventing imposition. Seat
belt laws exist to create revenue for municipal governments through tickets for breaking the law, but more important to municipalities and the state is creating occasions for law enforcement officers to interact with the public where other legal infractions can be found. The purpose of this initiative is not to do away with seat belt laws, it’s just an example of a law that is morally wrong and unjust. Or a law that imposes without preventing imposition.
The goal of the Just Law Amendment is to create a functioning legal definition for the word liberty. As a substitute, the JLA I propose will make it incumbent upon the courts to allow a defendant in a criminal case to inform the jury that they may decide whether or not a law is just based on net liberty. Allowing a defendant to create a defense against a law that can be shown to impose without preventing imposition, or where what the law imposes is substantially greater than the imposition it prevents.
There are grassroots movements in different states to pass statutes to allow for jury nullification of law in criminal proceedings. The difference between the amendment I propose and the statutes sought by others is the objective morality of liberty that can be used to measure whether or not a law is just from a place of objectivity. Using liberty as the basis eliminates individual jurors’ subjective sense of justice which can cause law itself to become arbitrary.
Arguments would have to be limited to merits of liberty-based justice regarding the law. A just law challenge should not be based on efforts to create sympathy for the individual, rather a fundamental challenge to the law based on the law imposing without preventing imposition, or net liberty where a law imposes more imposition than it prevents. The prosecution in a just law challenge can argue the merits of the law. Meaning the defense does not gain any unfair advantage in the proceedings.
The Just Law Amendment provides people in this country through a jury of their peers to have oversight over the laws that are created without their direct input, consultation, and approval. Beyond liberating the population from potentially unjust laws they did not consent to there are other potential benefits from the JLA. Mainly in understanding true public opinion regarding laws. If a defendant charged with a crime is found not guilty due to nullification 70 or 80% of the time such charges go to trial, clearly it is in the interest of the state to no longer prosecute the crime, or for the state to change the law. It has the potential to save money in the cost of enforcement, prosecution, and incarceration. The Just Law Amendment protects a citizen from laws that do not serve the interest of the public which may come into being no matter how representative elected officials are of public interest.
Just Law Amendment Preliminary Text: Any person accused of a crime has the right to inform a jury of the jury’s power to nullify law on the basis of net liberty.