Thursday, September 22, 2005

Examining the American Bill of Rights Using the Ethic of Justice

Examining the American Bill of Rights Using the Ethic of Justice. This short paper is the result of an ethics course I took last fall as part of the educational administration doctoral I am attending. It looks at how framers of the Constitution balanced the need for laws with the desire to protect the people from abuses of the law. I put this paper up online yesterday and hope someone at some point in time finds it useful.

From the site:

The law can be a two edged sword. While it protects society as a whole, it can also be used to coerce and erode the rights of the individual. Sometimes, the only way for individual rights to be assured is to make changes to the law. This can be difficult and it may require a struggle. This is true of the American people in the 18th Century and an examination of the Bill of Rights can reveal what was believed about justice.

The American Revolution had many causes. Probably the biggest reason for the war was the desire of many British subjects in North America to be free of British law. In addition to taxation, many rights that the Americans felt they were entitled too were taken from them by British law. When the United States finally won independence and wrote a constitution, there was quick movement to enshrine certain rights into the document. The result was the Bill of Rights. Examining these rights helps to understand how Americans viewed the law.

This is also worth looking at by using the Ethic of Justice that was described by Starratt (1991). He wrote that community teaches individuals how to think about their own behavior in terms of the larger common good of the community. One of the ways that this can be expressed is through the law. In most of western culture, the law is a source of justice and social cohesion that helps to protect both the community and the individual.

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