Bush violated FISA [... ] because he wanted to violate the law in order to establish the general 'principle' that he was not bound by the law, to show that he has the power to break the law, that he is more powerful than the law.
1951. Law is a rule of conduct enacted by competent authority for the sake of the common good. The moral law presupposes the rational order, established among creatures for their good and to serve their final end, by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator. All law finds its first and ultimate truth in the eternal law. Law is declared and established by reason as a participation in the providence of the living God, Creator and Redeemer of all.
Those who hold to the Christian faith see law as an ultimate order of the universe. It is the invariable factor in a variable world, the unchanging order in a changing universe. Law for the Christian is thus absolute, final, and an aspect of God's creation and a manifestation of His nature. In terms of this, the Christian can hold that right is right, and wrong is wrong, that good and evil are unchanging moral categories rather than relative terms. From an evolutionary perspective, however, we have a very different concept of law. The universe is evolving, and the one constant factor is change. It is impossible therefore to speak of any absolute law. The universe has evolved by means of chance variations, and no law has any ultimacy or absolute truth. As a result when we talk about law, we are talking about social customs or mores and about statistical averages. Social customs change, and what was law to the ancient Gauls is not law to the modern Frenchmen. We can expect men's ideas of law to change as their societies change and evolve. Moreover, statistics give us an average and a mean which determine normality, and our ideas of law are governed by what is customary and socially accepted.
Law is not as disinterested as our concepts of law pretend; law serves power; law in large measure is a recapitulation of the status quo; it confirms a rigid order designed to insulate the beneficiaries of the status quo from the disturbances of change. The painful truth-one with a long history-is that police are around in large part to guarantee a peaceful disgestion for the rich.
The rhetoric of 'law and order' was first mobilized in the late 1950s as Southern governors and law enforcement officials attempted to generate and mobilize white opposition to the Civil Rights Movement. In the years following Brown v. Board of Education, civil rights activists used direct-action tactics in an effort to force reluctant Southern States to desegregate public facilities. Southern governors and law enforcement officials often characterized these tactics as criminal and argued that the rise of the Civil Rights Movement was indicative of a breakdown of law and order. Support of civil rights legislation was derided by Southern conservatives as merely 'rewarding lawbreakers.' For more than a decade - from the mid 1950s until the late 1960s - conservatives systematically and strategically linked opposition to civil rights legislation to calls for law and order, arguing that Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of civil disobedience was a leading cause of crime.
I remain 'torn' (between a 'hyberbolic' ethical vision of forgiveness, pure forgiveness, and the reality of a society at work in pragmatic processes of reconciliation). But without power, desire, or need to decide. The two poles are irreducible to one another, certainly, but they remain indissociable. In order to inflect politics, or what you just called the 'pragmatic processes', in order to change the law (which, thus, finds itself between the two poles, the 'ideal' and the 'empirical' - and what is more important to me here is, between these two, this universalising mediation, this history of the law, the possibility of this progress of the law), it is necessary to refer to a ''hyperbolic' ethical vision of forgiveness'. Even if I were not sure of the words 'vision' or 'ethics' in this case, let us say that only this inflexible exigence can orient a history of laws, and evolution of the law. It alone can inspire here, now, in the urgency, without waiting, response and responsibilities.
I also need to prepare myself for the inevitability of utter boredom: Very often, single people don't do shit. They do nothing, all night long. They sit in a recliner and watch TV. I've probably watched more television than anyone you've ever met, and I don't even own one. Terrible shows, good shows, Golf tournaments in Cancun. C-SPAN. Hours of Oprah. Law and Order. Lonely people love Law and Order, for whatever reason. They prefer the straight narratives. p60
I may wish to return to my home in England, and I stand in New York, but ever since I was born I have been bound to this earth by a law that I have never been able to break-the law of gravity. I am told, however, that there is another law, a higher law, the law of aero-dynamics, and if only I will be willing to commit myself in total trust to this new law, then this new law will set me free from the old law. By faith I step into the plane, I sit back in the rest of faith, and as those mighty engines roar into life, I discover that the new law of aero-dynamics sets me free from the law of gravity.
The people have realized that Martial Law is not law. A regime not established by law is devoid of the attribute to dispense law. A regime which puts in a bunker the highest law in the land does not have the moral authority to say that nobody is above the law.