Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Law's the Law - But Should It Be?

Yesterday, the District of Columbia did not get the right to vote, and the Maryland Court of Appeals (which is the supreme court in Maryland) stated that the law of Maryland, as currently constituted, does not allow for same-sex marriage.

In both of these cases, the naysayers fell back on a position that was, basically, "what you've proposed sounds good, but that's not what the law says." This, I think, opens a fascinating question for Judaism as well, especially for those of us who do not want our religion to be like the Amish, wearing exclusively buttonless outfits and shunning most advances made after the Sixteenth Century.

We, of course, have The Law, which is divine (even if divinely inspired and not divinely written) but also speaks to a tribal early iron age people who can't just clone all the red heifers they need. When the law "says" something, assuming that we are not going to be tied into the most unchanging of dogma, how do we know when the law is able to change according to the time, and when something is supposed to be a principle for the ages?

3 comments:

Sherbs said...

Perhaps the only positive thing is that DC residents can still keep their AMAZING license plates: Taxation Without Representation

LT said...

The system of common law and precedent that underlies the U.S. Justice system derives in part from the Talmudic conception of legal argument and identifying patterns of issues.

The answer is that you have two things:

1) The Law Code

2) A System of Tools for applying the Law Code to various situations, adapting it to new developments, and interpreting it "legitimately".

As is the case in Jewish Law, in U.S. law, there are limits to what you can and cannot reasonably do with those tools.

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