U.S. Constitution Series 1: Founding Fathers and Cicero

U.S. Constitution Series 1:

Founding Fathers and Cicero

Cicero was born January 3, 106 B.C.

The Founders’ Basic Principles: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world

keyWorldly philosophies endeavor to blur the distinction between good and evil and eliminate accountability. However, the foundation of Natural Law (the law of the Creator) is the reality of good and evil. The U.S. Constitution was successful in creating a free and prosperous society because its foundation of Natural Law is based on moral accountability to a just God. ~C.A. Davidson

5000leapFrom The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World

By W. Cleon Skousen

1. First Principle: the Genius of Natural Law

(Notes from pp. 37-47)

What is Natural Law?

The Creator’s order of things is called Natural Law.

The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.


Cicero cut through the political and philosophical errors of both Plato and Aristotle to discover the touchstone of good laws, sound government, and the long-range formula for happy human relations. (p.37) He was the only Roman political writer who has exercised enduring influence throughout the ages. He studied law in Rome and philosophy in Athens.

Cicero’s compelling honesty led him to conclude that once the reality of the Creator is clearly identified in the mind, the only intelligent approach to government, justice, and human relations is in terms of the laws which the Supreme Creator has already established.

In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson referred to the “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

In Natural Law we are dealing with factors of absolute reality.

Since the Biblical God is the author of Natural Law, the first two great commandments indicated by Jesus Christ provide the standard for government and human relations.

Internal and External Government

Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. ~Edmund Burke

1. The first great commandment is to love and honor God (the God of Israel).  The simplest way to honor God is to abide by the Ten Commandments. These provide moral absolutes, which if obeyed, build in us a strong internal government, or good moral character.

2. The second great commandment is to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” This commandment is based on love. When we serve our fellow man, we are serving God. Jesus taught that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. If we have strong internal government, (we discipline ourselves and do no harm to others, by our own choice), then there is little need for much external government, which forces people to obey the rules of civilization.  Internal government is based on love of God, ourselves, and our neighbors. External force is not based on love.

Legislation in Violation of God’s Natural Law is a Scourge to Humanity

All Law Should Be Measured against God’s Law

ciceroCicero set forth the means by which people may discern between good and evil laws. All laws must be measured by God’s Law, which he described as follows:

Therefore Law [of the Creator] is the distinction between things just and unjust, made in agreement with that primal and most ancient of all things, Nature; and in conformity to Nature’s standard are framed those human laws which inflict punishment upon the wicked and protect the good. (Dr. William Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers, p. 135)

It was clear to Cicero as he came toward the close of his life that men must eliminate the depravity that had lodged itself in society. He felt they must return to the high road of Natural Law. They must pledge obedience to the mandates of a loving and concerned Creator. (Skousen, pp. 45-46)

The Following are Examples of concepts based on Natural Law

  • Unalienable rights
  • Unalienable duties
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Limited government
  • Separation of powers
  • Checks and balances to correct abuses by peaceful means
  • Right of contract
  • Laws protecting the family and the institution of marriage
  • Justice by reparation or paying for damages
  • Right to bear arms
  • No taxation without representation

Principle # 2:  Moral and Virtuous Leaders


History Timeline, Natural Law, and Darwin Theory

Dinner Topics for Monday

History Timeline, Natural Law, and Darwin Theory

Related Post: Education History, Darwin Eugenics, and Racism Today

Ed Vitagliano

keyDarwinian activists like Langdell and Holmes commenced the process of overturning the founding principles and refashioning American jurisprudence. All this was begun without once asking for the permission of the citizens over whom the new laws would rule.

People who love the Founding Fathers and the bedrock principles of America should at least fight back against this process and try to reverse it.

Sir William Blackstone and the long war against law

blackstonejudgeparkerIn his office in the Alabama Judicial Building, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker proudly displays a four-volume 1773 edition of Commentaries on the Laws of England.

Written by William Blackstone, the famous English jurist, Commentaries formed the core of American jurisprudence both before and after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, said Parker, who was first elected to the high court of Alabama in 2004 and reelected six years later.

An introduction in the reprint from University of Chicago Press begins with this startling sentence: “Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1765-69, is the most important legal treatise ever written in the English language.”

In fact, according to a monumental 10-year study of founding-era political documents conducted by University of Houston political science professor Donald Lutz, Blackstone was third on the list of most quoted sources. Only the Bible, representing 34% of cited sources, and political philosopher Charles de Montesquieu (8.3%), were higher than Blackstone (7.9%).

Primacy of natural law

natural-lawWhile Blackstone’s books were foundational to American law when the nation was established, the process of hollowing out Blackstone’s influence began almost 150 years ago.

Why did this happen? The short answer is that Blackstone was rejected because Blackstone’s ideas were rooted in a Judeo-Christian view of the world.

God designed the world to express certain ideas and to operate under certain laws – and this theory is called “Natural Law.” The influence of Blackstone and other thinkers of a similar vein led to familiar founding sentiments such as the mention of “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” in the Declaration of Independence.

Those laws apply to humanity as well, said Parker. “When He created man and imbued him with free will to conduct himself in all parts of life, He laid down certain immutable laws of human nature,” he said in an interview with AFA Journal. In addition, in creating mankind, God “gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purpose, or the purport, of those laws.”

Human laws are therefore to be the product of people comprehending God’s purposes and fashioning their own regulations of human conduct to reflect the Divine will.

Embracing Darwin Theory

darwin-title-race⇐The Preservation of “Favoured Races”

Following the end of the Civil War, however, some influential individuals embraced a new idea: Darwinian evolution. The Origin of Species, published by Charles Darwin in 1859, had a huge impact on the movers and shakers who saw no room in American jurisprudence for Blackstone’s God-based view of nature.

“There was a really deliberate effort by the president of Harvard University [Charles Eliot] to change things, to introduce evolution into the teaching of law,” Parker said. “So he hired Christopher Langdell [as dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895], who changed from using Blackstone’s Commentaries that had these immutable principles, to a case law approach, studying the writings of judges.”

This began the process of changing American jurisprudence, a process that, while admittedly slow, would eventually succeed over the following decades.

(Another Case for Term Limits on Supreme Court Judges-C.D.)

“What they were able to do is change the focus from the God who gave immutable principles,” Parker said, “to the judge – the man – who was writing the law. By studying cases over time, they were able to show an evolution of the law.”

judicialtyrannyFurther advance of the Darwinian impulse in law came with the influence of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.

“It is astounding how long he was there,” Parker said. “He served 30 years – from 1902 [until he] retired in 1932. … It was a long career and enabled him to have quite an impact on the law when his ideas tickled the fancy of so many out there who readily embraced them.”

Holmes is perhaps best known for “The Path of the Law,” an article that appeared in the Harvard Law Review in 1897. In that article, Holmes  said, “I often doubt whether it would not be a gain if every word of moral significance could be banished from the law all together, and other words adopted which could convey legal ideas uncolored by anything outside the law.”

Throughout the infamous article, Holmes makes a complete break from Blackstone and the past. Parker said: “Morality was separated from jurisprudence; human expertise and reason were divorced from natural law – and obviously from ‘Nature’s God;’ absolute truth was denied; and the responsibility for determining truth was placed firmly in the hands of judges.”

Holmes’s article had far-reaching effects. “This is the point in time in American history when the law pivoted,” Parker said. “It changes.”

From that point on, judges began to accrue power in the American political experiment.

“In my Constitutional law class at Vanderbilt University, one of the better law schools in the country, we never read the Constitution,” Parker said, “just what judges said about it.”

This should not surprise us. If there is no absolute truth in a universal sense, why should there be any consideration given by judges to the original intent of the architects of the Constitution? Judicial activism becomes common because judges become a law unto themselves.

Hope for the future

While an ideology alien to the Founding Fathers has clearly taken root – and changed many fundamentals in jurisprudence and elsewhere – Parker is surprisingly hopeful about the future.

The reason? He said a shift began roughly 35 years ago that is something of a counter cultural movement within American jurisprudence.

freedom-religion“There was an obvious move of the Holy Spirit through the legal community in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” Parker said. “Lawyers across the country simultaneously were filing these lawsuits in defense of religious liberties. There was no coordination between them.”

Out of that movement arose a new generation of legal defense groups such as the American Center for Law and Justice, Liberty Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Institute, Pacific Justice Institute and others. Christian law schools also began cropping up – like those at Regent University, Liberty University and elsewhere.

“So that group of lawyers who were moved by the Holy Spirit took action and created institutions that will have a long reaching effect,” he said. “The legal training being provided through these Christian law schools gives me hope. We are having brilliant legal scholars come out of those law schools. We have some leading intellectual lights in Christian jurisprudence.”

Simultaneously, Parker noted, is the important work of a new generation of culturally-minded Christians. He said powerful groups like AFA, founded in 1977 by Rev. Don Wildmon, were created to inform and equip believers and other social conservatives to engage with the critical issues of the day.

While many Christians have come to see the need for a return to founding principles in law, there remains a large percentage of the Christian community that eschews involvement in politics and culture. This is a cause of exasperation for Parker.

“I get so frustrated by those who attempt to bury their heads in the sand and not see their role in contending or striving for the truth,” he said. “Because, absent their involvement, these [secularist] trends will take down their children, even as we see the signs of them taking down our society right now.”

Darwinian activists like Langdell and Holmes commenced the process of overturning the founding principles and refashioning American jurisprudence. All this was begun without once asking for the permission of the citizens over whom the new laws would rule.

People who love the Founding Fathers and the bedrock principles of America should at least fight back against this process and try to reverse it.

Who knows? We might even succeed in making a place on the shelf once again for William Blackstone.


Related Post:

Education History, Darwin Eugenics, and Racism Today


U.S. Constitution, Definitions, Liberty, and Natural Law

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

keyoldSay unto them, except they repent the Lord God will destroy them. For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people. ~Alma 8:17

 Month-Defining Moment

justice gavelWe are at a Defining Moment in our history. Thus, a new monthly feature on this blog will be Defining Moments, or definitions. Having your family members look up definitions in the dictionary can create interesting dinner conversation. Today’s topic defines two ways of interpreting the laws of the land.

On many people’s minds today is the matter of what we should do when faced with unconstitutional laws. Legal Positivists appear to overlook one vital concern. What if elected officials not only fail to uphold constitutional law, but even are complicit in the betrayal of the principles they were elected to uphold and the destruction of the people’s liberty? What if the political process has become so corrupted that even elections are fraudulent, thus disenfranchising the people?

This well-written article by Shiloh Logan is a little deep, but please read and ponder it . . . even pray about it. In these times we need to be a thinking people. We all are accountable to God in how we conduct our lives. How accountable are we if we forfeit our God-given liberties so we can get something for nothing, or in open rebellion against morality and decency? How accountable are we if we do nothing and allow our children and grandchildren to be deprived of the precious liberties we have enjoyed and that many have given their lives for? ~C.A. Davidson

The Twelfth Article of Faith and Obedience to the Law

Posted on July 20, 2010 by Shiloh Logan |

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, IN obeying honoring, and sustaining the law.

The Twelfth Article of Faith is a standard of religious compliance and belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints specifically regarding every member’s obligation to be subject to the laws of their country and to their leaders. Many interpret this Article of Faith to mean absolute compliance to all laws enacted within a political mechanism, while others have used this article to justify a higher principle of natural rights, justice, and morality.

The Twelfth Article of Faith has no coordinating conjunction. This means that there is only one complete sentence, and not two clauses. By adding a coordinating conjunction we change the meaning of the Twelfth Article of Faith to have two separate clauses: (1) “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates,” and (2) “We believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” This, however, is not the way this Article is written.

Instead, the Twelfth Article of Faith reads: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Without the coordinating conjunction the belief of being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, is qualified in this single clause by their obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

Our belief in being subject to these leaders only goes so far as they obey, honor, and sustain the law. Without the coordinating conjunction, the qualifying “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” is applied to the leaders, and not to the people themselves.

Does this mean that the Latter-day Saints do not believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”? No, it does not, for Section 98:5 of the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) tells us that the Lord wants us to befriend that Constitutional law of the land that promotes the liberty and freedom of all mankind, and Section 134:5 tells us that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming any citizen protected in their inherent and inalienable rights.

Questions, however, arise concerning whether the Twelfth Article of Faith gives any room for a lex injusta non est lex (an unjust law is no law at all) philosophy or for civil disobedience. What if the citizen is not “thus protected” (D&C 134:5) by their government in his inherent and inalienable rights? If the Twelfth Article of Faith offers room for the non-est-lex philosophy and civil disobedience, how so and what are their limits? These are not simple questions, and the answers are generally divided into two competing philosophical theories: (1) legal positivism, and (2) natural law. Each philosophical theory answers these questions differently.

Legal Positivist Interpretation

The legal positivist’s claim on the Twelfth Article of Faith calls for absolute obedience to all laws enacted by the political leadership. Disobedience to enacted laws is a strict violation of this Article of Faith according to this view. Unjust laws are legally repealed by the legislature and not merely dismissed by an individual who disagrees with the enacted law. This interpretation is justified in light of D&C 58:21-22: “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be. . .” This appears to contradict the natural law theorist’s slogan that an unjust law is not law at all (lex injusta non est lex). Legal positivists believe that members of the Church are commanded to obey the laws enacted by their government (laws of the land), and that in obeying the law of the land (even an unjust law) they will not break the laws of God – or a higher moral law.

An analogy used by legal positivists to interpret D&C 58:21-22 is that of a soldier who obeys an unjust order to kill in a time of war. Leaders of the Church have declared that soldiers are not morally accountable for following orders to kill their enemies in a time of war, but that the accountability of an unjust command falls on the leader(s) who gave the order. As President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do” (Hinckley 80). Legal positivists argue that the citizen – like the active soldier – has immunity for following an unjust order (law) legislated by his government. The individual’s responsibility is to obey the scripted law, and it is the legislator’s responsibility to enact just laws. The important thing is for the citizen to be honest and obedient to all established laws – good and bad – until the time comes when an unjust law can be changed legitimately through the political mechanism of government. At this time, the citizen becomes responsible for acting in such a way as to change the unjust law. Until then, the individual is justified in obeying an unjust law. In this strict obedience to the law, even to an unjust law, the legal positivist finds himself obedient to the Twelfth Article of Faith and the laws of God.

Joseph Smith on Constitutional LawNatural Rights and Law Interpretation

Natural law holds a different view of the Twelfth Article of Faith. To the natural law understanding, D&C 58:21-22 is qualified in D&C 134:5: “We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected. . .” (emphasis added). While the natural law thinker recognizes the need to obey the law of the land and to be subject to the powers that be, he still recognizes that sedition and rebellion have their place when a government no longer protects the inherent and inalienable rights of the people. Furthermore, the person who recognizes natural law must qualify and differentiate between a just and an unjust law as he differentiates between the two forms of law that represent just and unjust laws in D&C 98: the law of the land and the law of man.

And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. . .

And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. . .

And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God (D&C 98:4-7, 10-11).

In acknowledging natural law, a man further recognizes that the law of the land is conditionally limited to that which promotes the rights and privileges of all mankind. Anything more or less than that which promotes the rights and privileges of all mankind is the “law of man” and is “evil.” It is within the law of man that the naturalist finds unjust law. Furthermore, the command given by God, the ultimate principle giver, is to forsake all evil – even the law of man! This reading of D&C 98 is in line with Aquinas’ first principle of natural law: good is to be done and pursued, and evil avoided (Aquinas q94, a2, p. 47). In this sense, every individual is obligated to avoid all evil – even if it is scripted law – if the enacted law violates the rights and privileges of all mankind. President Joseph F. Smith clarified this concept when he said,

responsibilityIt seems to me that [D&C 98:4–7, 10–11] makes this matter so clear that it is not possible for any man who professes to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make any mistake, or to be in doubt as to the course he should pursue under the command of God in relation to the observance of the laws of the land.

[God] will hold [lawmakers] responsible if they will pass unconstitutional measures and frame unjust and proscriptive laws. . . If lawmakers have a mind to violate their oath, break their covenants and their faith with the people, and depart from the provisions of the constitution, where is the law, human or divine, which binds me, as an individual, to outwardly and openly proclaim my acceptance of their acts? (Gospel 406).

Both natural law and legal positivism argue that lawmakers are accountable for passing unjust and proscriptive laws; however, these competing theories vary according to the level of accountability ascribed to the individual when confronted with an unjust law. The legal positivist must maintain strict adherence to the law (leaving sole accountability to the lawmaker for passing unjust legislation, until the time comes when the individual may affect legislative change), but the man who acknowledges natural law takes upon himself a portion of accountability in how he responds to an unjust law. The natural law thinker will remain subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, and he will obey, honor, and sustain the law by only adhering to just laws that promote the freedom and liberty of all people. This appears to be in line with President John Taylor’s interpretation of D&C 98:4-6.

Today we are faced with laws which violate the Moral Compass

Taking this nation as an example, all laws that are proper and correct, and all obligations entered into which are not violative of the Constitution should be kept inviolate. But if they are violative of the Constitution, then the compact between the rulers and the ruled is broken and the obligation ceases to be binding. Just as a person agreeing to purchase anything and to pay a certain amount for it, if he receives the article bargained for, and does not pay its price, he violates his contract; but if he does not receive the article he is not required to pay for it (Taylor).

This reading of President John Taylor carries the natural law slogan: an unjust law is not a law. If a codified law violates the purpose and principle of the Constitution, then there is no obligation to obey it – for the obligation ceases to be binding. However, President Taylor, in keeping true with natural law principles, explains that all laws that do maintain the rights and privileges of all mankind must be followed. This reading is consistent with every passage of the Doctrine and Covenants presented in this paper.


The grammatical punctuation of the Twelfth Article of Faith is not intended as an argument in itself, but when applied to the natural interpretation of scripture it offers a consistent interpretation. For as Ezra Taft Benson said concerning this Article of Faith,

In it is a declaration requiring obedience, loyalty to, and respect for duly constituted laws and the officials administering those laws. In justifying such loyal compliance, however, the Lord also promulgated certain safeguards and conditions which must be observed if freedom and liberty are to be preserved and enjoyed. These are emphasized in primarily in the 98th and 134th sections of the Doctrine and Covenants (Benson 277).

It is necessary to comply with laws that support “that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges” of “all mankind” (D&C 98:5), for these are the “laws of the land” that we are commanded to keep in Section 58:21-23. Through using our reason, our inner moral compass, and the guidelines as laid out in scripture and prophetic utterance we are able to support a true principle in establishing the law of the land, and, by so doing, we will never be found in contradiction to the law of God. However, once true principle is violated, we are left unto the tempest and onslaught of the law of man – a law that we are commanded to forsake (D&C 98:7, 11). Let us be “subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates,” as they “obey, honor, and sustain” the true Constitutional law of this land, and may we never be found guilty in rising against our representatives while “thus protected” in our inherent and “inalienable rights.”

Works Cited

Aquinas, Saint Thomas. On law, morality, and politics. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1988. Print.

Benson, Ezra Taft. God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974. Print.

Gospel Doctrine Sermons & Writings of Joseph F. Smith. New York: Deseret Books, 1999. Print.

Hinckley, Gordon B. “War and Peace.” Ensign May 2003: 78-81. Print.

Taylor, John. Journal of Discourse. Vol. 26. 1884: 350. Print.