Friday, January 27, 2006

God's Law, Man's Law, and Teaching

If you have an hour or so over the weekend and want to have your brain stimulated, I highly recommend a forthcoming Harvard Law Whitepaper that's available over at the Social Science Research Network. Written by law professors David Skeel, Jr. (Penn) and William Stuntz (Harvard), Christianity and the (Modest) Rule of Law is a fascinating read. It basically argues that God's law (as set forth in the Christian scriptures) is designed to be an all-encompassing guide to living, while manmade law, when properly set up, has a much more limited scope. As a practical matter, Skeel and Stuntz argue, criminal laws enacted to "teach a lesson" or advance a particular moral position generally fail in the implementation. They particularly skewer the bevy of Federal criminal laws passed by Congress in response to the crisis-du-jour but that don't really do anything except provide underworked Federal prosecutors with more hunting tools. Interesting stuff.

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