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

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  • Intent (spirit).

    10 41.67%
  • Letter.

    5 20.83%
  • Could be either, depends on the specifics.

    8 33.33%
  • Other.

    1 4.17%
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Thread: What's more important? The intent of the law, or the letter of the law?

  1. #1
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    What's more important? The intent of the law, or the letter of the law?

    What's more important? The intent of the law, or the letter of the law?

    The questions related to how the law should be pursued and/or prosecuted by the justice system.
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

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

    Both are important.
    Laws should follow the 'kiss' principle and yet not allow frivolous interpretation.

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

    As a general rule I believe the intent/spirit of the law should be paramount, but there are times where the letter of the law should be enforced as well, though I think that is less often. I voted "Could be either...".
    If you claim sexual harassment to be wrong, yet you defend anyone on your side for any reason,
    then you are a hypocrite and everything you say on the matter is just babble.

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

    Intent. Specifics change more frequently, often because they don't match intent. We never change the intent for the specifics.

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

    Letter ... Intent can be manipulated or otherwise vary from interpretation to interpretation leading to unequal application of the law.

    If the letter doesn't make sense or is wrong, it ought to be reconciled with the intent by lawmakers or the judiciary system.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by ecofarm View Post
    Intent. Specifics change more frequently, often because they don't match intent. We never change the intent for the specifics.
    So, the law should express in 'clear' words the intent?

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

    The letter of the law.

    At the end of the day it's impossible to ascertain the intent of a law. You often don't know what was on the mind of the writers of the law and even if you do it's always going to be uncertain whether or not the legislators who voted for a law used intent in casting their vote.

    The only objective standard you have is what the law says.
    Don't be a grammar nazi - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 1 #7

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

    I would like to see the intent of the law practiced in most cases, but I think for practicalities sake we use the letter of the law.
    "Why is it that if you take advantage of a corporate tax break you're a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something so you don't go hungry, you're a moocher?"
    -Jon Stewart

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

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

    The questions related to how the law should be pursued and/or prosecuted by the justice system.
    Most criminal laws have no specific intent requirement: You were speeding or you were not; you shoplifted or you did not; you possessed a firearm as a felon or you did not. Some states allow you to not be punished under certain circumstances in the discretion of the Court but you still are guilty in some very defined emergency circumstances where you had no other option but to speed or drive without a license to save a life or something and there were no other reasonable options.

    Here are some of the more common specific intent crimes. (10 Specific Intent Crimes)

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

    other: the enforcement of the law
    we are negotiating about dividing a pizza and in the meantime israel is eating it
    once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed

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