SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Monday, January 17, 2005

EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW ESSENTIAL TO ALL. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I will quote liberally from page 44 of my current read, First Things: An Inquiry into the First Principles of Morals and Justice, by Hadley Arkes. Early on in the book I was profoundly struck by Arkes’ insight concerning the connection between the acceptance of slavery and the undermining of republican government--which is rooted in the concept of natural equality for all human beings. Simply put, the acceptance of slavery as a moral good and the promotion of that evil practice is itself inimical to the long-term survival of constitutional republicanism.

Arkes notes how Abraham Lincoln and his Republican Party clearly understood the linking of these concepts:

A government that could make slaves of black men could, at the very least, begin restricting the franchise of poor whites; and as it created new categories of “disabilities,” it could soon place large portions of the community under the permanent governance of a ruling class. As the government began to take all of the steps necessary to preserve a system of slavery, the democratic character of the regime would become muted, while the authoritarian features implicit in slavery would become more pronounced. In this way, slavery could bring about the corruption and erosion of republican government, because it would break the attachment of citizens to the premises that underlie their own freedom. Lincoln spoke with a somber realism, then, when he remarked that “a house divided cannot stand”: the political order could not exist half slave and half free; “it will become all one thing or all the other.” The dynamic would soon have to move in one direction or the other.

Well put, Professor Arkes.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)


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