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North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Objectivist Common Law court system?

Objectivist Common Law court system?

A former member
Post #: 176
Would y'all think it would be a good idea (if we could work it out) to create some sort of common law court system under Objectivist principles? This is something I've been envisioning for some time and I'm finally taking steps to accomplish it, and I'd like to see a discussion on this, I certainly can't do it alone and other ideas would help. There is also an event Sunday May 9 discussing this and Schaeffer Cox's video and other ideas, I only want to mention that once here especially since it's timely, but I'd like to see a discussion here about the idea (and Cox's video, if y'all wish) here regardless. Thanks.

Gned the Gnome

A former member
Post #: 190
The May 9 meetup had to be cancelled because Ryan's went back on their word, so it's rescheduled for this Sunday, May 23, if anyone's interested. The exact time and place are still tbd so if anyone wants to go this is a good chance to influence those decisions for your convenience.
Old T.
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1,092
Interesting idea, Gned, and a big topic.

I am not familiar with the video you mentioned, so I am not sure of the scope of a "court system" you envision. I assume you mean regarding only civil disputes between individuals or businesses who specifically agree to submit to such a system.

If this is what is envisioned, I think it falls into the category of "voluntary arbitration." It would not really be any kind of "court system" because it would have no power to enforce its decisions. If some regular court procedures are followed, it is possible to seek enforcement of a voluntary arbitration proceeding in a court, but I am not sure that what this idea would qualify for such enforcement by a regular court. For one thing, I think a regular court would expect the arbitration to follow generally accepted legal principles. Otherwise, without a way to enforce a decision, such a system would be woefully weak.

Furthermore, an implicit premise of this idea is that the existing government court system is not according to Objectivist principles. Of course, there are now many non-objective laws in this country ranging from anti-trust to banking to environmental protection to taxation. But most of the non-objective laws are rooted in the legislative system, not the judicial system. I do not see how a voluntary arbitration system could change or avoid such laws. Regarding civil disputes between individuals or businesses (e.g., contract disputes), I think the court system is reasonably objective, by and large. It seems to me that the only part of the business of the regular court system that a voluntary arbitration system could try to address independently (with or without the possibility of enforcement), would be a part that is still essentially objective.

I note that NTOS has some participation terms for resolving certain kinds of disputes among members, as published on our About page. You might find this to be an interesting reference for your purposes. But observe that the scope is limited to specific issues that may come up in a voluntary social association and that the power of enforcement is also very weak, based only on a member's respect for the objectivity of a decision and his continued desire to participate.

-- Old Toad
Mesquite, TX
Post #: 61
If someone had the time to come up with an independent set of Judge Narragansett- style laws, as a 'contrasting parallel' to the Sharia Law (which is getting lots of attention and even gaining some serious political following and influence, particularly in Europe and Africa), maybe one could position such laws to be brought forward in the same places and ways where the Sharia is now mounting its offensive. If nothing else it would illuminate the radical differences between a faith-based law of oppression versus a rights-based law of economic and spiritual freedom, one greatly similar to the USA laws of old.

It would be interesting to see whether Fox News (who readily airs stories about the Sharia challenge and points out how the Muslim population is exploding throughout Europe) would be willing to give equal time to similar challenges mounted in favor of a secular Objectivist Law. Nah, probably not.

Sharia Courts in Britain

A former member
Post #: 170
sharia law vs objective law: Apparently this is only a form of arbitration that gives legal teeth to religious rules. The article said London Jews have been doing the same thing for over a century. I don't think it amounts to a parallel legal system, but a legal sub-system. They still have to follow English Law, but decided to tack their religious law on top of it. Supposedly it's voluntary, but I wonder if English courts would back-up the death penalty for apostates? I suppose apostasy or conversion would be the only way to withdraw your consent to the arbitration. I also wonder if the state endorsement of religious law constitutes a merging of church and state? I guess not as long as it's voluntary. Anyway I think an Objectivist version of this would lead to a dead end since we'd advocate fewer laws if anything, not more!

objective law vs common law: my understanding is that common law is the record of judge's rulings over time. In a Q&A Ayn Rand compared a common law system to witch-doctor medicine. Once you have the real deal you wouldn't need common law anymore. I agree that basing a legal system on common law is like a kind of legal mysticism. However even if we establish a consistently objective legal code it would have to be interpreted by judges and their precedents would form the basis of a common law or case law system. Therefore before there can be any objective common law there has to be an objective constitution and subordinate legal system.

judge narragansett: in the 2nd to last scene Narragansett is rewriting the US constitution, which was also based on previous legal documents. I think another rewrite is the next logical step in securing a free society. I wouldn't mind participating as an exercise in political philosophy.
A former member
Post #: 192
Actually I'm working on such a rewrite, to revive the original legitimate American gov't the founders gave us, long story, see the Constitutional Republic of America for details. In fact, as mentioned at the above link and also here, I'd love to have interested objectivists participate in this and my other political projects.

But my main thrust with the Common Law Institute and its meetup group and the upcoming meetup Sunday (location and precise time still tbd) is to discuss Schaeffer Cox's videos­ in general, the section­ about common law courts in particular, and especially the objectivist principles which I explain would be the more ideal and correct common law to use and which are the foundation of the Institute.

This project also intends to grow into a worldwide virtual country, a society of free and responsible people with a workable objective system to preserve order and restore freedom after the de facto regime collapses, and meanwhile to serve as a voluntary arbitration service (at least) in the meantime and also serve as the court system and most of the legal system for my other projects, the Constitutional Republic of America and its leading member state/republic, the United Republic of Texas. There are some good people helping with the latter but I'm eager to recruit interested like minded allies, especially objectivists, to help with these especially some brainstorming. All of these projects are also promoting Panarchy, insisting on everyone's right to individually select which government(s) (if any) to support.
Old T.
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1,093
... All of these projects are also promoting Panarchy, insisting on everyone's right to individually select which government(s) (if any) to support.

The need for organized protection against force is the fundamental purpose of government. Anarchy is fundamentally incompatible with freedom and individual rights. There is no "right" to being able to "individually select which government(s) (if any) to support" (in the same physical area), for that would be the end of all political rights and freedom.

Collectivists frequently cite the early years of radio as an example of the failure of free enterprise. In those years, when broadcasters had no property rights in radio, no legal protection or recourse, the airways were a chaotic no man's land where anyone could use any frequency he pleased and jam anyone else. Some professional broadcasters tried to divide their frequencies by private agreements, which they could not enforce on others; nor could they fight the interference of stray, maliciously mischievous amateurs. This state of affairs was used, then and now, to urge and justify government control of radio.

This is an instance of capitalism taking the blame for the evils of its enemies.

The chaos of the airways was an example, not of free enterprise, but of anarchy. It was caused, not by private property rights, but by their absence. It demonstrated why capitalism is incompatible with anarchism, why men do need a government and what is a government's proper function. What was needed was legality, not controls.
--Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, "The Property Status Of Airwaves"
A former member
Post #: 194
Actually I was promoting Panarchy, not Anarchy, and I don't entirely agree with your analysis, nor the applicability of the quotes you cited. I didn't go into details, but (at least I believe that) implicit in the idea of people being able to individually select their gov't's, is the idea of a universal Common Law to resolve disputes between citizens of different gov't's - of course this would have to be the minimal amount of law needed to do this, thus basically NAP, or ISP/ERP/NAP as I've further refined it.

Our meetup­ to discuss common law courts has been changed to this coming Wed. at 7 PM in Duncanville, in case anyone's interested. The meeting room we reserved has room for 60 people so we have room for plenty of guests, and we really need more input and brainstorming, especially Objectivists.

Old T.
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1,097
Actually I was promoting Panarchy, not Anarchy ,... implicit in the idea of people being able to individually select their gov't's, is the idea of a universal Common Law to resolve disputes between citizens of different gov't's ...

What if "a government" does not recognize the "universal Common Law"? What would make the "universal Common Law" be "universal" between two neighbors in Dallas?
A former member
Post #: 195
Aye, there's the rub... it would take some education for sure... it might be most practical to implement this along the lines of Virtual Cantons (or you might call them Virtual Precincts) somewhat as described by amendment 11 near the bottom of the URT Constitution although that's not the best example because the URT as an occupied nation is itself a virtual country in that it does not claim monopoly jurisdiction over its area (citizenship is voluntary and must be explicitly chosen and qualified for).

Anyway to more directly answer your question, the common law would have to be minimal, which it is if we use ISP/ERP/NAP as I advocate. Most people today, being more comfortable with some kind of gov't, would probably want to join suitable Virtual Cantons which would spring up as the free market determines, some people might want to group along party lines, others along religious lines, others just based on who they know, and that's fine. We'd need to probably set up the first few prototypes and educate people that the ISP/ERP/NAP Common Law and whatever common law courts we set up would be adequate (and objective enough) to handle disputes between members of different VC's or between the VC's themselves or even between a VC and its member if the VC's rules allow disputes unresolved internally to be appealed, or between a VC and its former member if their parting was unresolved, etc.

Obviously the details need to be worked out, that's part of why I'd be interested in input from interested Objectivists to help brainstorming sessions on this and other related projects. If nothing else, it would be an interesting project to work on, and ultimately I hope that it could really do some good.

Members in a VC are free to voluntarily waive the exercise of certain rights if they really want to, e.g. a bunch of religious conservatives could set up a VC with a long list of thou shalt nots to impose upon themselves, and a bunch of liberals could set up a VC to implement a welfare system and tax themselves like crazy to support it - but neither one would be able to impose their laws or taxes upon non-members. The control freaks in society would be disappointed but some of them would be redeemable i.e. be educated that what they really wanted was freedom from certain violations or potential violations by people not like them, and that ISP/ERP/NAP would take care of that, so they could lighten up. For example, a conservative homophobe who's paranoid that gays will somehow harm him or his family would learn that ISP/ERP/NAP is adequate protection so he no longer has to be a homophobe or favor laws that would oppress or discriminate against gays. Only the most evil, dedicated criminal types would be unhappy with this setup (assuming that we are able to make it work right) and if they refuse to abide by the sentence from the common law courts, they could be outlawed as Schaeffer Cox explains in his videos as mentioned in our meetup group, and ultimately someone would find it necessary to use lethal force in self-defense and that would be the end of it. In practice it would be unlikely to go this far, I think.

Again, this is all somewhat hypothetical until we can get enough of us working together to make it reality. Getting the de facto regime to stay out of our way would be another issue but if it is indeed on course for collapse then that problem would be solved (although we hope for ways to solve it before then). It might be best to use this as a prototype in a Liberty District (Galt's Gulch type project), and I'm still working in that area as well.

This needs to be worked out of course - anyway the meeting room where our meetup­ will be has room for 60 people and we only have 5 confirmed rsvp's so there's plenty of room for more if anyone's interested.

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