Why a Bad Supreme Court Decision May Require Civil Disobedience


Civil disobedience has a long and noble history in Western culture, and we will need a primer on it if, as seems likely, the Supreme Court rules against natural marriage in June.

Of course, civil disobedience is not justified just because we disagree with a human law, but only when that law conflicts with a higher revealed or Natural Law. When he was jailed for violating a law used to stop him from protesting injustice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail. “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God,” he argued. “An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”

Judeo-Christian history and the Western legal tradition agree with Dr. King. Sir William Blackstone wrote the definitive legal source used by British and American lawyers alike through the nineteenth century. In his Commentaries on the Laws of England, Blackstone wrote that “divine Providence” revealed His will through the “holy scriptures” and the “moral precepts” of revealed law. “Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation depend all human laws; that is to say, no human law should be suffered [permitted]to contradict these.” This natural law “is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this.”

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