View Poll Results: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

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  • Letter of the law

    4 22.22%
  • Spirit of the law

    10 55.56%
  • Depends on the crime/situation (please elaborate)

    4 22.22%
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Thread: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

  1. #1
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    What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    Which one should be the guiding principle in our legal/justice system?
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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    If the letter doesn't embody the spirit, then the legislators got it wrong. As to which is preferable, that would depend on which end of the decision you were sitting. Ultimately the letter should stand, since the interpretation of the spirit varies.
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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    You have to balance the two. The spirit of the law can be too subjective, the letter of the law may lack the flexibility to handle unusual circumstances.

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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    I think America would be better off if we went more by spirit than letter. For instance, do you really think that the Founding Fathers could envision the world being like this 230+ years later? They'd also be pissed that most Americans see the Bill of Rights as a restriction on them instead of what it truly was - a restriction on government.

    I think almost half of people today would be sympathizers to the crown in those days.

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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gipper View Post
    I think America would be better off if we went more by spirit than letter. For instance, do you really think that the Founding Fathers could envision the world being like this 230+ years later? They'd also be pissed that most Americans see the Bill of Rights as a restriction on them instead of what it truly was - a restriction on government.

    I think almost half of people today would be sympathizers to the crown in those days.
    Well, half the people back then were supporters of the crown.
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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Your Star View Post
    Well, half the people back then were supporters of the crown.
    If it was half, we would've lost the Revolution. Even though England was still embroiled in a long-standing war with France across the pond, they still sent plenty of troops and supplies to the colonies. France sent some, but not nearly along the same numbers. Also, their navy did massive damage to coastal establishments.

    There were plenty of British sympathizers, but not enough that they alone could hold back the continental armies and militia alone or with minimal help.

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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    Neither will work.

    Spirit of the law allows personal interpretation based on personal opinion, and we all think differently.

    Letter of the law assumes that the author of the law encompassed every possible scenario, which is impossible.

    Law is neither black or white, but various shades of gray.

    Peoples opinions change, as does their judgement, as do our laws.

    This is why we have case law, which fine tunes the laws, and allow lawyers large salaries.

    Our legal system, though, is quite complex, which is a huge problem.
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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    Quote Originally Posted by SMTA View Post
    Neither will work.

    Spirit of the law allows personal interpretation based on personal opinion, and we all think differently.

    Letter of the law assumes that the author of the law encompassed every possible scenario, which is impossible.

    Law is neither black or white, but various shades of gray.

    Peoples opinions change, as does their judgement, as do our laws.

    This is why we have case law, which fine tunes the laws, and allow lawyers large salaries.

    Our legal system, though, is quite complex, which is a huge problem.
    If your "personal opinion" of law leads to interpretation that deviates too far from the norm, it doesn't hold up. This is why we have mistrials, retrials, appeals, etc.

    The law is indeed black and white, but the wiggle room isn't endless.

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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gipper View Post
    If your "personal opinion" of law leads to interpretation that deviates too far from the norm, it doesn't hold up. This is why we have mistrials, retrials, appeals, etc.

    The law is indeed black and white, but the wiggle room isn't endless.
    Really?

    Then explain to me why the 1A and 2A amendments cannot be understood the same by everybody?

    Their wording is quite simple and short.
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    Re: What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    Quote Originally Posted by radcen View Post
    What's more important: The spirit of the law or the letter of the law?

    Which one should be the guiding principle in our legal/justice system?

    In the case of the United States, the inclusion of a Judicial Branch seems to indicate our Founding Fathers knew the spirit of the law would inevitably take precedent over the letter of the law.

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