THE PURPOSE OF LAW
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SOURCE: Great IRS Hoax, section 3.3

What is the purpose of law? First, lets define it, right from Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, page 884:

Law- That which is laid down, ordained, or established. A rule or method according to which phenomenon or actions co-exist or follow each other.   Law, in its generic sense, is a body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having binding legal force. United States Fidelity and Guaranty Co. v. Guenther, 281 U.S. 34, 50 S.Ct. 165, 74 L.Ed. 683. That which must be obeyed and followed by citizens subject to sanctions or legal consequences is a law. Law is a solemn expression of the will of the supreme power of the State.   Calif.Civil Code, 22.

The “law” of a state is to be found in its statutory and constitutional enactments, as interpreted by its courts, and, in absence of statute law, in rulings of its courts. Dauer’s Estate v. Zabel, 9 Mich.App. 176, 156 N.W.2d 34, 37.
[
Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 884]

In other words, the “sovereign” within any nation or state is the ruler of that state and makes all the rules and laws with the explicit intention to provide the most complete protection for his, her, or their rights to life, liberty, and property.  Different political systems have different sovereigns.  In England, which is a monarchy, the sovereign is the King so all laws are enacted by Parliament by or through his delegated authority.  In America, the “sovereign” is the People both individually and collectively, “We the People”, who created government to protect their collective and individual rights to life, liberty and property.  Here is how the Supreme Court describes it:

“Sovereignty itself is, of course, not subject to law, for it is the author and source of law; but in our system, while sovereign powers are delegated to the agencies of government, sovereignty itself remains with the people, by whom and for whom all government exists and acts.” 
[Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356; 6 S.Ct. 1064 (1886)]

Because the People in America are the sovereigns, because we are all equal under the law, and because we have no kings or rulers above us, and because all people have a natural, God given, inviolable right to contract, then the Constitution was used as the vehicle by which the people got together to exercise their sovereignty and power to contract in order to delegate very limited and specific authority to the federal government.  Any act done and any law passed by the federal government which is not authorized by the Constitution is unlawful, because not authorized by the written contract called the Constitution that is the source of ALL of their delegated authority.  Again, here is how the Supreme Court describes our system of government, which it says is based on “compact”.

“In Europe, the executive is synonymous with the sovereign power of a state…where it is too commonly acquired by force or fraud, or both…In America, however the case is widely different.  Our government is founded upon compact [consent expressed in a written contract called a Constitution or in positive law].  Sovereignty was, and is, in the people.
[Glass v. The Sloop Betsy, 3 (U.S.) Dall 6]

Below is the legal definition of “compact” to prove our point that the Constitution and all federal law written in furtherance of it are indeed a “contract”:

Compact, n. An agreement or contract between persons, nations, or states.  Commonly applied to working agreements between and among states concerning matters of mutual concern.  A contract between parties, which creates obligations and rights capable of being enforced and contemplated as such between the parties, in their distinct and independent characters.  A mutual consent of parties concerned respecting some property or right that is the object of the stipulation, or something that is to be done or forborne.  See also Compact clause; Confederacy; Interstate compact; Treaty.” 
[Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, p. 281]

Enacting a mutual agreement into positive law and which takes the form of a Constitution, then, becomes the vehicle for proving the fact that the People collectively agreed and directly consented to allow the government to pass laws that will protect their rights.  When our federal government then passes laws or “acts”, the Congressional Record becomes the legal evidence or proof of all of the elected representatives who consented to the agreement.  Since we sent these representatives to Washington D.C. to represent our interests, then the result is that we indirectly consented to allow them to bind us to any new agreements or contracts (called statutes) written in furtherance of our interests.  If the statute or law passed by Congress will have an adverse impact on our rights, it can then be said that indirectly we consented or agreed to any adverse impact, because the majority voted in favor of their elected representatives. 

Public servants then, are just the apparatus or tool or machinery that the sovereign People use for protecting their life, liberty, and property and thereby governing themselves.  It is ironic that the most important single force that law is there to protect from is disobedient public servants who want to usurp authority from the people.  Our federal government essentially is structured as an independent contractor to the sovereign states, and the contract is the Constitution.  The Contract delegated authority or jurisdiction only over foreign affairs and foreign commerce.  There are a few very minor exceptions to this general rule which we will discuss subsequently.  As the definition above shows, the apparatus and machinery of government is simply the “rudder” that steers the ship, but the Captain of the ship is the People individually and collectively.  In a true Republican Form of Government, the REAL government is the people individually and collectively, and not their public servants. 

Law is therefore the method used by the sovereign for delegating his authority to those under him and for governing and ruling the nation.  Frederick Bastiat in his book The Law, further helps us define and understand the purpose of law:

We must remember that law is force, and that, consequently, the proper functions of the law cannot lawfully extend beyond the proper functions of force.  When law and force keep a person within the bounds of justice, they impose nothing but a mere negation. They oblige him only to abstain from harming others. They violate neither his personality, his liberty nor his property. They safeguard all of these. They are defensive; they defend equally the rights of all.[1]

So we can see that law is force and that it must apply equally to all if liberty is to be protected.  If it applies unequally to one class of persons over another, then it turns from being an instrument of liberty to an instrument of oppression and tyranny.

Many people think the purpose of law is to promote justice.   According to Bastiat, the purpose of law is to prevent injustice. Law is a negative concept and not a positive concept. Law is there to prevent harm, not to encourage or mandate good. Here is another excerpt from his book, The Law, that explains this assertion:

Law Is a Negative Concept

The harmlessness of the mission performed by law and lawful defense is self-evident; the usefulness is obvious; and the legitimacy cannot be disputed.

As a friend of mine once remarked, this negative concept of law is so true that the statement, the purpose of the law is to cause justice to reign, is not a rigorously accurate statement. It ought to be stated that the purpose of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning. In fact, it is injustice, instead of justice, that has an existence of its own. Justice is achieved only when injustice is absent.

But when the law, by means of its necessary agent, force, imposes upon men a regulation of labor, a method or a subject of education, a religious faith or creed - then the law is no longer negative; it acts positively upon people. It substitutes the will of the legislator for their own initiatives. When this happens, the people no longer need to discuss, to compare, to plan ahead; the law does all this for them. Intelligence becomes a useless prop for the people; they cease to be men; they lose their personality, their liberty, their property.

Try to imagine a regulation of labor imposed by force that is not a violation of liberty; a transfer of wealth imposed by force that is not a violation of property. If you cannot reconcile these contradictions, then you must conclude that the law cannot organize labor and industry without organizing injustice.

The purpose of the law cannot be to promote charity, because charity and force are incompatible. Here is Bastiat’s perspective from The Law again:

The Law and Charity

You say: "There are persons who have no money," and you turn to the law. but the law is not a breast that fills itself with milk. Nor are the lacteal veins of the law supplied with milk from a source outside the society. Nothing can enter the public treasury for the benefit of one citizen or one class unless other citizens and other classes have been forced to send it in. If every person draws from the treasury the amount that he has put in it, it is true that the law then plunders nobody. But this procedure does nothing for the persons who have no money. It does not promote equality of income. The law can be an instrument of equalization only as it takes from some persons and gives to other persons. When the law does this, it is an instrument of plunder.

Another word for plunder is theft. Whenever the government or the people use the law as an instrument of plunder/theft, and the government as a Robinhood, then the purpose of government turns from preventing injustice to:

  • Punishing success by making people who work harder and earn more pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. This discourages a proper work ethic.
  • Plundering the rich to give to those who have the most votes. This causes democracies to devolve into “mobocracies” eventually, as low income persons vote for persons who will rob the rich and give them something for nothing. (We already have this, in that older people vote consistently for politicians who will expand and protect their social security benefits, which aren’t a trust fund at all, but instead are a Ponzi scheme paid for by younger workers, moving money from hand-to-mouth).”
  • An agent of organized extortion and lawlessness.
  • A destabilizing force in society that undermines public trust and encourages political apathy (voter participation is the lowest it has been in years..ever wonder why).

Here is what the Supreme Court had to say about this type of plunder:

“To lay with one hand the power of the government on the property of the citizen, and with the other bestow it on favored individuals…is nonetheless robbery because it is done under the form of law and is called taxation.”  
[Loan Association v. Topeka,  20 Wall. 655 (1874)]

"A tax, in the general understanding of the term and as used in the constitution, signifies an exaction for the support of the government. The word has never thought to connote the expropriation of money from one group for the benefit of another." 
[U.S. v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1, 1936]

The U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Pollock v. Farmers Loan and Trust, 157 U.S. 429 (1895) eloquently expressed what happens when the government becomes a Robinhood and tries to promote equality of result rather than equality of opportunity. We end up with class warfare in society done using the force of law and a mobocracy mentality:

“The present assault upon capital is but the beginning. It will be but the stepping stone to others larger and more sweeping, until our political contest will become war of the poor against the rich; a war of growing intensity and bitterness.  'If the court sanctions the power of discriminating taxation, and nullifies the uniformity mandate of the constitution,' as said by one who has been all his life a student of our institutions, 'it will mark the hour when the sure decadence of our present government will commence.'

[…]

The legislation, in the discrimination it makes, is class legislation. Whenever a distinction is made in the burdens a law imposes or in the benefits it confers on any citizens by reason of their birth, or wealth, or religion, it is class legislation, and leads inevitably to oppression and abuses, and to general unrest and disturbance in society.”
[Pollock v. Farmers Loan and Trust
, 157 U.S. 429 (1895)]


[1] Frederick Bastiat, The Law, 1850.