William Beyer wins the coveted Spotty ™
For understanding the difference between natural and positive law
William Beyer of St. Louis Park had the Letter of the Day in the paper edition of the Strib today, Sunday the 23rd of June. I am going to reprint it, but since the Strib was nice enough to publish it in the first place, please follow the link and give the Strib and Mr. Beyer a click. You’ll feel better about yourself.
The letter was about the tag team match with George Will and Doug Tice in the op-ed section last Sunday. I would first like to congratulate Mr. Beyer on making his way through all that dreck. It was a chore, and I’d like to congratulate him second for writing such a concise and pithy take down, especially of Will and his new book. Beyer sums up Will pretty well, so I’ll let him do it. Here’s the letter:
Thanks for the side-by-side publication of George F. Will’s conservative fantasies (“Is the individual obsolete?”) with D.J. Tice’s unusually restrained praise — “A (mostly) clarifying higher-altitude view,” Opinion Exchange, June 16. And thanks to Tice for reading Will’s book so the rest of us don’t have to.
Reassuringly, Tice finds excessive overreach in Will’s assertion that judges should discard the explicit will of Congress and the president to instead enforce “natural law.”
Philosophers across recorded history have appealed to natural law, god-given or otherwise, as the source of authority in human relations. But, as unequivocally noted in the U.S. Constitution, the source of authority in this country is “We the People.”
Those first three words establish exactly who is in charge, and in the preamble’s six goals the founders don’t mince words. But, to Will’s taste, “promote the general Welfare” should have been “promote the individual Welfare of those favored by natural law.”
Will’s choice of vicious racist Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president, as a “progressive” champion is telling. As is his own veiled racism, citing, “inequalities of wealth … rising from exceptional natural aptitudes” and their “genetic bases.”
His shout-out to Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin is truly precious: “Government should not impede or discourage parents in their conscientious accumulation, husbanding and investment of those assets for their children’s education, broadly construed.” Perhaps Will’s book will be on their prison reading lists.
Will’s conservatism asserts “the spontaneous order of cooperating individuals in consensual, contractual market relations” as the basis for society.
Sorry, George. None of that works without a government designed by “We the People” to “establish justice.”
Beyer notes that even Doug Tice recognizes Will’s trembling grip on the constitution. Perhaps Will is just out past his freshness date.
Natural law is like natural shampoo: you really do need to pay attention to the ingredients. George III, George Will, and Katherine Kersten are all fans of natural law.
George III loved natural law because it asserted — according to him, of course — that he was entitled to rule because of the divine right of kings. (Parenthetically, Jefferson’s little flourish about “being endowed by their Creator” in the Declaration of Independence was a statement that countered the idea that the divine right of kings was part of natural law and Jefferson was claiming that people were sovereign.) It wasn’t anything to build a country on, though, and we didn’t. Natural law is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. As Mr. Beyer says, it’s “We the People” that begins the Constitution, a thoroughly positive law document throughout.
Beyer also give a good account of why Will likes natural law.
Katherine Kersten is an adherent of natural law because she thinks it allows her to deny women their bodily sovereignty and tell people who they can marry.
It’s funny, really, that authoritarians are the ones who seem to like natural law so much.
Remember, kids, a Spotty™ is awarded for an op-ed piece, a letter to the editor, or a blog post or comment that I wish I had written myself.
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