Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sub judice rule and the forgotten virtue of epikeia, a reasoned liberal interpretation of the law

Faithful pro-lifers are unusually silent in the face of the pending Supreme Court decision on the Reproductive Health Law, while the pro-choice, pro-RH writers and leaders are having a heyday in the press.

I hope the anti-RH and prolifers are not overly cautious due to the sub judice rule, the non-public commentary of pending court cases -- which "applies almost exclusively, or at least most of the time, to criminal proceedings.. and is stricter with lawyers than with the press."

Moreover, national public morality of the highest importance should have precedence over these judicial niceties, as per the Catholic moral doctrine of epikeia.

Epikeia, the reasoned, liberal interpretation of the law, is in fact a virtue, according to no less than St. Thomas Aquinas!

Thomas explains that "since human actions, with which laws are concerned, are composed of contingent singulars and are innumerable in their diversity, it is not possible to lay down rules of law that would apply to every single case. In framing laws, legislators attend to what commonly happens."

Epikeia  comes from the Greek epieikes, meaning reasonable. It is defined as "an indulgent and benign interpretation of law, which regards a law as not applying in a particular case because of circumstances unforeseen by the lawmaker. The lawmaker cannot foresee all possible cases that may come under the law, and it is therefore reasonably presumed that were the present circumstances known to the legislator he would permit the act, e.g., a mother presumes that she may miss Mass on Sunday when there is no one present to care for her baby."(SQPN)

This doctrine proves once more the primacy of reason -- over everything else, including the law.

And the reasonableness of the Religion of the Logos, the religion according to Reason.

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