The tantalizing Biblical account of the Tree of Knowledge may very well be about Man’s ability to discern the difference between Good and Evil. What if the Biblical command is a denial of Man’s ability and privilege to set standards of behaviour? The philosophers of the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment posited that Man has the ability to set his own standards. Men can rely on their moral sense. However, from the same Enlightenment period to the twentieth century, philosophers and mathematicians have shown that all reasoning must come to an end and begin from assumptions simply posited as the axioms of the system. Whose axioms and first assumptions do we adopt? Further, it is widely acknowledged, both in Jewish Law, and in the English and American legal systems, that despite the authority of precedents and axioms for a legal system (such as the American Constitution), the Judge or any Court of Law must have leeway in applying the rules of the system. These understandings are cited in detail in the essays to follow. Both great Rabbinical figures and great secular Jurists have explicitly stated the obligation of a Judge to use his own understanding in a particular case. All legal system have common denominators, whether they be based on the Torah and Rabbinical thinking or based on the moral resources and intuitions of the secular Judges. It is most useful to begin the study of secular law with Sir Edward Coke his “Institutes of Law“ .
Among our great Rabbinical Scholars, it was the Rambam and the Ramban who emphasized that the Nations of the World must adopt Laws, Courts of Law and a Police Force. More than this, on page 56A of Masechta Sanhedrin, Rabbi Yitzchak and Rabbi Yochanan argue as to whether those laws of the B’nai Noach, the righteous nations , have to be modeled upon Jewish Law or from their own moral resources. Rabbi Yitzchak argues that their laws must be modeled upon Rabbinic Law and Rabbi Yochanan argues that they are capable to setting up their own standards of Justice. The Rema, Tshuva #10, Hebrew #10 describes this disputation and takes side with Rabbi Yitzchak. However, it is clear that even for Rabbi Yochanan, the laws of the nations must be just laws, Mishpat Tzedek, for if not, what would be the purpose of any legal system, except to impose despotism and hardship on the populace?
From a Jewish point of view, any study of English Common Law and American Constitutional Law must be based upon these recognitions, that just law is the basis and foundation for any well functioning society. If this requirement is ignored, history shows that that society will fail, sooner or later, and at the expense of the people.
You can argue that Rome stood for 1000 years but so what? Cicero, Rome’s greatest legal theorist and law maker was killed so that a grudge by Mark Antony could be satisfied and the coffers of Emperor Augustus be filled. After that, the history of the Roman Emperors was a history of despots upon despots, with few exceptions.
Anyone who takes the time to read these essays (preferably in PDF format), will be greatly rewarded. If you read the footnotes, including the Rabbinical citations in Hebrew, you will be doubly rewarded. This will take a bit of time and study, depending upon the resources of the reader. There is no fast way to convey the content these detailed arguments.
Additional Note: Justice to the Environment is part of the administration of Justice for Man. In the 21st century, the continuation of civilization is dependent upon care for the Biosophere, the Atmosphere, and the Hydrosphere. We must preserve our forests and our lakes, and facilitate the safe disposal of human and industrial wastes. Destruction of the environment is ultimately an assault upon men and civilization. Corporate pollution and Municipal polllution are maladies against ourselves. Most of the great civilizations came to an end because of environmental causes.