Liberty can also function as a rule for a rule. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the people; that is why we sacrifice the right to use violence in exchange for a police force and judicial decision making. But what about other hazards that we deserve protection against? Work hazards, road hazards, abusive husbands, should the government step in every time we as individuals stub our toe? Is there a limit to police power? Is it feasible for the government to be able to protect us as a mother would protect her child? The power of police protection has got to end somewhere. In the case of Lochner v. New York, this question was raised. Where does police power end and liberty begin? Where does judicial descision making come in?
It was the decision of the court that In Lochner v. New York a law restricting the amount of hours a baker could work in a week was overturned.
And it was also determined that the liberty of the employer to enter into a contract with his employees was constitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. However, what is liberty? If you exhaust your workers to the point where they are incapable of anything but your mandated sixty hour work week, then is that not in some way a violation of their civil liberties? If you are going to make a rule based on a rule, what better master rule than liberty? If a compelling statement such as life liberty and the pursuit of property is one of the major pillars of the constitution, and the constitution can serve as a sort of master rule for the creation of rules, then liberty must be tantamount to a master rule. When facilitating decisions that promote law and order, judges must have liberty in mind as a master rule.
Justice can be defined as the successful upholding of the law. It has nothing to o with vengeance, retribution, or reparation. Justice is only concerned with doing what is right. In the case of Riggs v. Palmer, the young man Palmer murdered his grandfather in an effort to inherit his farm. Palmers motivation to murder his Grandfather came from a combination of the prospect of inherited wealth, and the specter of losing that inheritance to his Grandfathers new wife should the Grandfather have the chance to revise his living will. If justice is to be done in this case, the intentions of the Grandfather should be taken into account for the judicial decision making. The farm was willed to the boy before the boy had proven himself to be willing to kill his Grandfather. Had the Old man known that this boy held such a murderous potential when he was alive, it can be said that the Old man would have not willed the farm to his grandson. The original will as it was written when the old man died bequeathed the farm to the boy; the will had not been revised.
The judicial decision making of the court in this case was that Palmer made himself an heir by murdering his grandfather.
Prior to the murder he was not an heir, his inheritance was provisional, it relied on the circumstances that he should outlive his grandfather, and that his grandfather should not die by his hand. In essence by making himself an heir to the farm the boy Palmer nullified the provision in his Grandfathers will that gave him the farm. This particular decision is an example of justice as it pertains to governmental obligation to protect its citizens. No person should gain anything from murder. Equal protection is one of the major tenets of the constitution and as the definitive master rule of law, a violation of equal protection can be seen as a violation of the constitutional right to life liberty and property. Of course these protections are only applicable when we are talking about the interaction between an individual and the government, but as rule that should be used to make rules, the deprivation of life is the greatest insult a person can bestow on another. And as such The master rule dictates the rules against gaining property from murder.
When speaking of religious freedom, we can use the Jailhouse confession tapes case as an example of the obligation that the judiciary has to tread lightly on this subject. Religion as an institution and the goings on of a religion are the proverbial third rail as far as the courts and the government are concerned. However, in this case, an Oregon Jail taped a confession between a priest and a man suspected of murder in an effort to gain damning evidence against him. It was determined by the court that the recording violated the sanctity of the secrets of confession and the victory for the church was hailed as a landmark for religious freedom But what about the obligation that the judiciary has to bring a murderer to justice. Is this an issue about religious freedom or criminal prosecution? If the man did in fact do murder, and if the tapes contain a confession, then the obligation of the master rule should trump a petty doctrine of religious freedom should it not? Why would a priest, a pious and righteous man wish to aide and abet a murderer?
Master rules for judicial decision making and justice in this country behave much like the revolution governor on an engine and like the blueprints for a house. The Master rule that holds sway over us all can slow the speedy and swift sports car of justice, or they can tell us where and how the justice system must be built for maximum exposure and effectiveness. Ultimately I believe that Justice and the master rule are pliable. The law and the secret witchcraft that is American jurisprudence is a closely guarded trade secret of lawyers and Judges, and the idea of a master rule, a benevolent guiding principle that insures that our judiciary runs as smooth as possible is still just a creation of man. Forgive me for my misanthropy, but any institution that is created by a person with a pulse is doomed to be as consistent as Swiss cheese and as crooked as a question mark. However, the law has yet to fail me. So on some bizarre and perhaps tragic level I still have an inherent trust in the legal system of this country, perhaps Im still just a kid at heart, it feels good to believe in something like judicial decision making.