The Legal Universe Observations on the Foundations of American Law

The Legal Universe Observations on the Foundations of American Law

We can only answer these questions by assuming that the promise made by the Committee of Seven to the crowd gathered outside the Phillips County Jail represents a higher view of justice and serves a greater social purpose than the proper functioning of an impartial judicial system. We must assume that the ridiculousness of a trial and the demand for the immediate execution of these poor African-American cotton farmers were more in keeping with the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution than any other way of dealing with the case. And this hypothesis is impossible to consider. No legal system can resign itself to satisfying the emotional demands of a crowd, and after tempers calmed down, people should have understood this fact and given in. But they didn`t. The committee`s promise, long after the racist fever of the moment had subsided, was seen by the people and elected officials of Arkansas as a legally binding solution to the incident. If so, where is the relationship between justice and law? American Legal System, Indians, History, Legal Status, Minorities, Laws According to the authors, “whenever American minorities have raised voices of protest, they have been urged to work within the legal system that seeks its abolition.” This essential work examines the historical development of the legal rights of various groups in America and the relationship between these rights and the philosophical intent of the founders. All human societies, as part of their maturation process, strive to turn their philosophical beliefs into reality. Yet the United States has often failed in its objectives and has experienced and created the most horrific incidents of injustice.

We can often understand why these things happen, but we usually lack the skills and knowledge to determine the procedures by which we can avoid such problems in the future. It is only after much agony and experimentation, it seems, that we are sometimes able to build the right mechanisms to at least manage, if not completely solve, the problems that weigh on our national soul. The following story is a historical illustration of the deep anguish and hardship that members of a group we will investigate, African Americans, have experienced in their struggle to have their humanity recognized and respected by the American legal system. This incident is known as the Elaine Race Riot or Phillips County Race Riot in Arkansas and is typical of the treatment of African Americans in the South in the early decades of the twentieth century. The arrest, indictment, indictment, trial, verdict and sentencing certainly followed the form of a trial, but there is every indication that justice was seriously flouted at every stage of the proceedings. Eventually, after a decade-and-a-half-long struggle, blacks were liberated. Moore v. Dempsey is generally cited as a landmark case in the movement involving the protection of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution for citizens. But more interesting to our goals is the idea of the law, which is defended by whites in this case. In Elaine`s uprising and her subsequent legal activities, we have a case where the law is seen as an instrument to impose a worldview that is completely subliminal and emerges only under disastrous circumstances to become a source of embarrassment for everyone.

The words critical majesty and solemnity seem to indicate a strong conviction that the law must be reliable and implacable in its operation, almost in defiance of the judiciary that promises to administer it. Once the formal process is over, we seem to be saying that the substance of justice is realized and there is no need for further reflection. Moore v. Dempsey, whatever constitutional questions he raises, gives us the opportunity to critically examine the extent to which our domestic law is the product of emotions and to what extent it represents the lofty philosophical theses of the nation`s organic documents. It has been said that we get our understanding of the law by observing the actions of the people around us rather than by reading the laws and ordinances. However, there must be some correlation between what we call the law and the situations in which we require its application. In this case, there is an appalling discrepancy between the form and content of the law that cannot be avoided. How, for example, could the American Legion Post ask the governor for immediate executions nearly a year after the trial, when it was obvious to almost everyone in the country that convicted blacks had been denied any semblance of justice? And how could they insist in their petition that “the majesty of the law” would be strengthened if men were summarily executed before their appeals had been decided? Given the mass of evidence before the Supreme Court on abuses of the judicial system, how could two judges characterize the trial in state courts as “solemn” and thus confer judicial dignity on a trial that could only be described as heinous? As news of the white man`s death spread throughout the county, the incident was completely misrepresented by local whites. Tenants were accused of sparking violence, and white citizens were informed that a general black uprising was taking place. Over the next day and night, gangs of armed whites roamed the hills, beating and killing many African Americans.

In total, between 200 and 250 blacks were killed and five whites died. When Arkansas Governor Charles Brough was informed that Phillips County was suffering from a major black “insurrection,” he appointed the Committee of Seven — prominent white citizens whom he accused of bringing law and order to the region. Nazi Germany is not the only example of a people and a law that went astray. One need only recall the vigilante groups terrorizing the cities of the western United States, the sordid records of lynchings of African Americans in the South, and the brutal attacks on workers in Ludlow and Haymarket to realize that mob violence is more often a product of mass society than a characteristic of indigenous peoples. More recently, under the George W. During the two terms of the Bush administration, we have witnessed a series of actions and policies – military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” also known as torture – all carried out under the guise of law that has eclipsed the democratic soul of the nation, both at home and in the eyes of the world. Use your phone`s camera – scan the code below and download the Kindle app. Professor David E. Wilkins holds the McKnight Presidential Chair in Native American Studies at the University of Minnesota. By the spring of 1920, the case had attracted national attention, and thousands of letters expressing sympathy and asking for clemency or proposing commutation of death sentences arrived at the governor`s office. Local residents began to be outraged by the delay caused by the appeal and demanded the immediate execution of the tenants. Five original members of the Committee of Seven wrote to the governor that “all our citizens agree that the law must take its course.” In October 1920, a meeting of nearly four hundred members of Richard L.

The position of Kitchen of the American Legion in a resolution addressed to the governor that “a solemn promise was made by the leading citizens of the community that if these culprits were not lynched and the law would take its course, justice would be done and the majesty of the law would be maintained.” They urged the governor to carry out the executions. Download the free Kindle app and instantly read Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, no Kindle device required. Learn more. One of the most persistent debates in American society revolves around the question of the size of government. We think it is too big if it interferes with our personal affairs and too small if it does not provide us with the benefits and services to which we believe we are entitled.

Share this post