Friday, July 6, 2012

Francis Lieber on Fundamental Laws and the Supremacy of Law

“The supremacy of the law is an elementary requisite of liberty. All absolutism spurns, and has a peculiar dislike of, the idea of fundamental laws. Aristotle enumerates as the fourth species of government that in which the multitude and not the law is the supreme master; James II. claimed the dispensing power, and Louis Napoleon affirmed, when yet president under the republican constitution which prohibited his re-election, that if the people wanted him to continue in office he should do it nevertheless, and all his adherents declared that the people being the masters could do as they liked, which reminds us of the Athenians who impatiently exclaimed: ‘Can we not do what we list?’ when told that there was a law forbidding what they intended to do.”

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