Trevor Grant Thomas
I'm in my early forties, so I can remember well the days of NFL football before instant replay. Whatever the shortcomings, the benefit of the official getting the call right always trumped any inconvenience that might result from a video review of a play.
Of course, "getting it right" means that there is a standard, much like the rules in the NFL, to which we all are (or should be) held. Despite notions to the contrary, as we argue and debate the issues of our day, ultimately each of us relies on such a standard, or some notion of right and wrong, or fair play, or rules, or morality, or whatever you want to call it.
What's more, the very foundation of our government depends upon such a notion. In fact, the foundation of any good government, culture, society, or virtually any situation where human beings interact with one another rests upon what used to be called Natural Law.
Our Founding Fathers understood this well. However, the idea that liberty, good government, and just laws have their roots in Natural Law, or "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God," did not begin with the founding of America. For millennia, many philosophers, politicians, priests, and laypeople alike knew the role that Natural Law should play in the "[g]overnments [that] are instituted among men."
Jim Powell, senior fellow at the Cato Institute and an expert in the history of liberty, credits the Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C. to 43 B.C.) with expressing the "principles that became the bedrock of liberty in the modern world." Cicero was the leading lawyer of his time, and Thomas Jefferson credits him not only with influencing the Declaration of Independence, but also with informing the American understanding of "the common sense" basis for the right of revolution.
"True law," as Cicero called it, is the "one eternal and unchangeable law [that] will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law[.]"
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