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Philosophy of Law

Theories of Law

Natural Law Theories of Law

The natural law defines the framework that certain values and rights are provided by the human nature through universal human reasoning. It emphasizes on the needs to examine and analyze the social and human nature to determine the binding regulation of moral actions (Feres, 2013). Thus, something natural is usually universal as the forces of nature determine it. In most occasions, natural law aligns to the common law, relying on the legal traditions, which are universal and inherent in a society. However, the common law does not necessary support all concepts in the natural law.

The natural law approach helps to encourage people to behave morally right. For instance, respecting your parents is an example of the natural law. It is not a legal issue for one to respect their parents (Stanlis, 2015). The natural law has developed a universal value for people to respect their parents. However, it lacks limitations and can lead to negative implications within a society. For example, certain societal values might be oppressive and illegal; yet the natural law would still approve them. Based on the assessment of the natural law, I think it should be used interchangeably with the current legal frameworks to promote morality and legal sanity in the society.

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H.L.A. Hart’s Positivist Theory of Law

H.L.A Hart’s positive theory of law defines the legal frameworks, which rely on the perceptions of modern thinkers such as John Austin. However, H.L.A is still  remarkable figure in the development of the positivist theory. This theory emphasizes on the need to examine the sources of the situation rather than merit towards forming law acceptable within certain norms in a society. The sources of the norms are important in coming up with clear legal perception and understanding. There is a difference between legal positivism and the natural law theory; the legal positivism places limitations to the sources while the natural law theory relies on the traditional norms and universal values within the society.

Some of the favorable elements of the model is the belief in changing existing rules. It recommends that rules can be changed or deleted to accommodate substantially in the legal perception changes. It also supports the recognition of the legal traditions and rules, which are important. However, one of the negative aspects of Hart’s positivist theory of law is the absence of a consistent legal framework of dealing with issues. For instance, it calls for the evaluation of both the primary and secondary legal frameworks to regulate the conduct and prosecution processes. I think it is critical to expand and support the legal provisions of H.L. A Hart’s values and beliefs on examining the sources of norms since the legal systems should be well refined to avoid certain violations.

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Dworkin’s Concept of Integrity

Dworkin’s concept of integrity focuses on the interpretation of the law based on the moral guidelines of justice and fairness. Dworkin advocates for the moral reasoning and reading of the U.S constitution in order to support the integration of the law and morality. Dworkin has fought for equality and promotion of morality within the interpretation legal elements and concepts of the U.S constitution (Waldron, 2013). Largely, the idea of integrity is able to deal with the gap between the natural law and the positivism. The natural law did not have the space to accommodate new cultural changes, because it mainly relied on the traditional values and concepts within the society; the parties involved in conflicts should look for a fair ground which is morally acceptable. Such a concept is effective in tackling the limitations of both the natural law and the positivism.

Some of the features of integrity model is the support of the expression of legal rights and responsibilities as a conception of fairness and justice. It also suggests that the legal frameworks should form a common unit that is useful in developing consistent concepts related to justice, fairness and due process. Thus, integrity would be able to come up with a strong foundation for constructive interpretation and implementation of laws (Kiikeri, 2012). Based on the above review, I think the integrity approach fits the modern society, because it helps in applying a liberal model of legal interpretation to accommodate the diverse cultures and dynamism in the society. The U.S should consider implementing the concept of integrity as it is more useful in dealing with numerous complex legal situations in the society today.

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Judicial Reasoning and Theories of Law

From Roe v Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

Based on the facts, the precedent judicial reasoning was applied in the case, as the U.S Supreme Court sought to review past cases and history of abortion to determine the criminality of the abortion laws. The assessment of the previous cases is useful and appropriate to determine the nature and implications of the current legal decision. The statutes in Texas give a woman the exclusive right to decide whether they want to give a birth or terminate their pregnancy. The Fourteenth Amendment provides for personal liberty, which would support the decision of the pregnant women (Feres, 2013). It is extremely important in understanding the criminality of the abortion compared to past cases in the American states and society.

Catherine MacKinnon should evaluate the decision to assess the past cases to assist in deciding the current abortion case as immoral and unethical. Catherine MacKinnon is feminist who believes that the U.S Congress should develop new constitutional amendments to prevent the oppression as well as supporting the rights and privileges of the women in the society. Thus, the decision to use precedent legal reasoning in such a case is unwanted, since a woman’s liberties are provided in the fourteenth amendment of the U.S constitution.

The feminist legal theory relies on the values and beliefs that the law has been influential in women’s historical oppression and demeaned power. The legal theory suggests that the laws should be changed and transformed to support equality and the empowerment of the women in the society. The women should be taken as equal as their male counterparts. The assessment of the feminist legal theory would support the personal liberty of pregnant women to make their own decision on whether to terminate her pregnancy (Hobbes, 2013). Some matters such as decision on whether to terminate pregnancy should be private and not public. However, the feminist legal theory provides for the exceptions where the law should take hold.

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From U.S. Supreme Court, Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 19 How. 393 393 (1856)

In this case, the originalism legal reasoning was applied to interpret and argue against the citizenship of the American slaves. In originalism model, the attorney uses rules and applies different factors through the deductive reasoning.  It helps in understanding the results, which could emerge from the facts (Kiikeri, 2012). Based on the current laws and regulations in the U.S constitution, the African slaves did not qualify to become U.S citizen; thus, they did not have the privilege to seek legal assistance from the courts. The interpretation of the U.S and constitutional laws drove the deductive reasoning to discredit the potential of the American slaves of becoming U.S citizens.

I think, Derrick Bell would evaluate the decision as oppressive and unethical as it seeks to undermine the rights of certain minorities in the U.S society. Derrick Bell has advocated for the civil rights of all people in the U.S ; the decision would be targeting limiting the ability of the African Americans to fight for their rights in the U.S.  Therefore, Derrick Bell would discredit the decision as racial and oppressive in nature.

Critical legal theory (CLS) defines the theory which challenges the common norms and guidelines in legal theory as well as in practice. The supporters of this theory rely on the focus to develop regulations from power relationships in the society. The legal frameworks are present to support the class, which are formed and prejudices which legalizes the injustices within the society (Stanlis, 2015). The powerful individuals and entities usually use such legal theories and elements to oppress other minorities to maintain their superiority. In this case, the native whites relied on the U.S Constitution laws and jurisdiction of the court to prevent the path to citizenship of the African who came to the America as slaves. For example, it argues that the U.S courts do not have the jurisdiction to listen to the cases filed by the blacks as were not U.S citizens; thus, they could not bring legal redress in the American courts.

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Castle Doctrine, Stand Your Ground, and Duty to Retreat.

Based on the case of Zimmerman and Alexander, the principles of the Castle Doctrine and Stand your law and regulations help in assessing the legality of the different scenarios and situations. The Stand your ground law helps to remove the duty to retreat, which allows for the use of the force for the purposes of self-defense (Feres, 2013). The state of Florida was able to allow people including the police officers to stand their ground if they predict a potential danger or  which could lead to their death. It is important to make clear judgments on the nature of the instances to avoid injury.

 In 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted of the charges of second-degree murder charges in the killing of unarmed teenager Martin on the law. According to the case facts, Zimmerman argues he had to use his gun for self-defense to protect himself from the attack by Martin. After careful legal deliberation, Zimmerman was acquitted from the murder charges due to the adequacy of evidence, which revealed that he wanted to protect himself from Martin (Kiikeri, 2012). Most importantly, Zimmerman’s judgment as an officer is important in assessing the threat to his life.  This indicates the effective application of the doctrine of Stand your ground in the society.

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On the other hand, it is controversial to stand by the verdict to sentence Alexander to 20 years in jail for firing a warning shot.  The actions of Marrissa were less extreme; thus, the jury should not have sentence him to the 20 years jail. However, it might have considered different facts resulting to the incidence. Generally, the castle doctrine provides that it is legal for individual use force including firing deadly weapons to protect themselves from the intruders. The verdict is highly controversial and contrary to the expected way of actions in most organizations (Stanlis, 2015). The duty to retreat should only occur when an individual feels they are threatened and, thus, they can use a deadly weapon as the last resort. Marrisa failed to comply with the duty to retreat guideline, which requires that the weapon must be used as a last resort. On the contrary, Marrisa used the weapon directly to settle the original scuffle, which was unacceptable.