I am impressed also that they share some strong connections to New Jersey (although I am guessing about Benjamin, I suspect he is a New Jerseyan).
I had some comments earlier today on another thread about the common law, there is quite a long discussion to be had. And it hasn't even breached the surface until folks start bringing up such arcane subjects as horn book law, "officer of the court", and the role of juries of citizens in establishing Liberty within the court system (a role that has been almost negated by the greedy process of law).
Here are my comments:
Stare Decisis is death to any system of Law that uses it alone for process. Stare Decisis is a mortal disease the Society that has a system of Law that relies mostly on it.
Mathematicians, physicists and engineers would understand this naturally, as do thesaurus writers. In mathematics, consider the repeated addition of small solid angles. (See for example http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/336k/lectures/node12.html) Such additions do not commute. That is, the sum of a series of small rotations in space does not place a object in the same place as the pure mathematical sum of those angles. The place that is arrived a series of small rotations arrives at could be opposite and far from the place desired.
It is also why by repeatedly using a thesaurus to replace a word or phrase with another one can end up with a meaning exactly the opposite of what was intended.
So it is that a series of legal decisions each branched from the other can end up at a ruling that is totally perverted from all the original intent of a law. A ruling with no semblance of moral sanity. And by all the twists and turns of stare decisis that end up at that distant result the ruling is made inscrutable to any who would consider it.
Such arcane perversity in the twisted web of stare decisis comes to prevent the participation of the public in the process of law, It marginalizes the public's great common sense and comes to create a class of legal nobility, of experts in navigating the arcane, inscrutable, perverting twists of case law. And in reaction to those inscrutable twists, legislators and regulators come to produce mirroring equally inscrutable bodies of legislation and regulation.
The inscrutability of such rulings, of such arcane case law, of large volumes of arcane legislation and regulation comes to cut off the wisdom shared between generations, and the perversity comes to mock the law and the process of law, and thus to destroy the society.
In a healthy society, one that conveys wisdom gained from one generation to another with respect and reverence, it is the process of Law which is a great Educator. The nature and wherewithal of rulings is easily knowable to the public, and great judges, great arguers before the court can be understood and appreciated, not for their personality, but rather for the intellectual and moral insights that they would provide to all.
Law, our modern process of Law in the US of 2008 no longer is a Great Educator, a fountain of wisdom and morals. It is instead become a horrible perverter, a fearsome beast which swallows the good and spits out the rotten. It is inscrutable, but those aligned to that now corrupting process become wealthy! They become celebrated and become stars and talking heads, famous.
Infamous. Blood profits milked from a perversion of the once noble and beautiful breasts of Lady Justice.
* * *
Yet, ideally The Common Law that is that Lady. The legal process is her cloak, that gives her both modesty and gravity. The Officers of the Court are those who dress her and support her.
Common Law and Original Intent: Every ruling in a healthy vibrant system of Law where the educated and moral participate as judges, advocates, juries and witnesses is informed with common law of the original intent.
In a Common Law system while rulings consider similar prior rulings, and even more weigh a series of prior similar rulings, most rulings will also of themselves and obvious to all stand in accord with the common sense, morality and ethics of that original intent.
By such rule are people happy and productive, and generations regard the wisdom of prior generations respectfully.
Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your words and thoughts. I too ponder the Lady, Liberty. She is not aging well under constant assault from her cloying courtesans.