Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Abuses of Power


As I’ve written at some length, we classical liberals are concerned by the risk of “abuse of power” in constitutional law and political theory. So much so that I don’t want to overlook any form of abuse of power that might potentially occur. 

Some abuses of particular concern are:

* The abuse of economic power, including the powers to engage in costly litigation and lobbying, by corporations wielding common-law rights of property, tort and contract; 

* The abuse of power by the judiciary, especially when invoking “the risk of abuse” in order to abusively impose limits on the power of other actors attempting to prevent or remedy abuses; 

* The abuse of power by state and local governments, especially when abusively resisting attempts by the federal government to prevent or remedy abuses;

* Governmental abuse of the power of inaction, especially in areas where governments could act to prevent or remedy abuses elsewhere on this list;

* Worst of all, the very grave abuse of state power identified by a defender of true liberty: 

“Those who are in authority owe it to the commonwealth not only to provide for its external well-being and the conveniences of life, but still more to consult the welfare of mens’ souls in the wisdom of their legislation. But, for the increase of such benefits, nothing more suitable can be conceived than the laws which have God for their author; and, therefore, they who in their government of the State take no account of these laws abuse political power by causing it to deviate from its proper end and from what nature itself prescribes.”

I look forward to my fellow classical liberals helping me to prevent these abuses at all cost, especially the last. I admit it may be awkward to address all these cross-cutting risks of abuse of power simultaneously, but I do have a suggestion.


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