The Rule of Law

  Stephen L. Corrigan

Alexander Hamilton in  Letter #33 of "The Federalist Papers" made the following statement:

"A LAW, by the very meaning of the term, includes supremacy. It is a rule which those to whom it is prescribed are bound to observe. This results from every political association. If individuals enter into a state of society, the laws of that society must be the supreme regulator of their conduct."

When a small group of pilgrims came to America, their first order of business was to create, by covenant, a civil body politic. This association in turn created a law . They as supreme identified themselves as having the right to establish constitutions (law for their different levels of government) that would protect their concept of liberty. Under the rule of law, these governments that would be formed would be obligated to follow the constitutions as perscribed. This was accomplished in a document called "The Mayflower Compact". In that compact, they stated their purpose, their rights, and how they would establish a new form of government for their preservation and the furtherance of the Christian Faith. These pilgrims were Protestant and the foundation for the rule of law that they established was to be the same foundation that would be adopted on a national level described in "The Declaration of Independence". This site will illustrate the unique history of the rule of law in America and the foundation or context of the conditions that have been placed upon it by the people.

 The following is a portion of an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Marshall in the case Marbury v. Madison. It should be read by every politician who desires to hold a public office in America. 
Chief Justice Marshall states:


 "That the people have an original right to establish, for their future government, such principles as, in their opinion, shall most conduce to their own happiness, is the basis, on which the whole American fabric has been erected. The exercise of this original right is a very great exertion; nor can it, nor ought it to be frequently repeated. The principles, therefore, so established, are deemed fundamental. And as the authority, from which they proceed, is supreme, and can seldom act, they are designed to be permanent. "

"This original and supreme will organizes the government, and assigns, to different departments, their respective powers. It may either stop here; or establish certain limits not to be transcended by those departments. "

The government of the United States is of the latter description. The powers of the legislature are defined, and limited; and that those limits may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the constitution is written. To what purpose are powers limited, and to what purpose is that limitation committed to writing, if these limits may, at any time, be passed by those intended to be restrained? The distinction, between a government with limited and unlimited powers, is abolished, if those limits do not confine the persons on whom they are imposed, and if acts prohibited and acts allowed, are of equal obligation. It is a proposition too plain to be contested, that the constitution controls any legislative act repugnant to it; or, that the legislature may alter the constitution by an ordinary act. "

Between these alternatives there is no middle ground. The constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it. "

"If the former part of the alternative be true,
then a legislative act contrary to the constitution is not law: if the latter part be true, then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the people, to limit a power, in its own nature illimitable. "

"Certainly all those who have framed written constitutions contemplate them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation, and consequently the theory of every such government must be,
that an act of the legislature, repugnant to the constitution, is void."

"...It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each."

                                                                                              Chief Justice Marshall


"The Federalist Papers" describe their federation as an association of small republics coming together forming a compound republic. It was soon renamed  "The United States of America" in "The Articles of Confederation".

 In that document, they also refer to an allegiance. This allegiance has existed between the people of the colonies ever since 1643. It was then called a "League of Friendship".  It was also reaffirmed by the people in the last paragraph of the "Declaration of Independence".

The People of the United States continue to be a "League of Friendship" today. It is the essence of citizenship. When we pledge our "allegiance to the Flag and to the Republic for which it stands" we are reaffirming the same principles as stated in the original 1776 social compact. And for that allegiance we are all citizens with the same civil rights no matter what our color or standing among men. We are free Protestant Americans who are united by oath and have pledged to be willing to follow the concept of friendship pledged in the last paragraph of the compact. Each is willing to lay down his life in order to protect the rights of his fellow Americans as listed in "The Declaration of Independence".

Christ said 
" No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friend ".  As a member of  the "League of Friendship" each citizen has the right and obligation to use  whatever weapon he can obtain in order to fulfill his obligtion to his fellow Americans.

he founders stated their liberty consisted of the natural privileges of personal power given to them by God under the Law of Nature at Creation. When they listed those specific natural or unalienable rights, those rights became the rights of all citizens in the republic.  Because the term civilian was also being used in England at this time to distinguish a private citizen from one who was in the army or navy, the declared natural rights given to private citizens as listed in the Declaration can also be referred to as a citizen's civilian or civil rights."

Thomas Jefferson makes the following observation corncerning liberty in America.
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God?"  (Thomas Jefferson from his "Notes on Virginia", 2:229-30)

 As soon as the founders (represententing all the Peoples of the 13 colonies) signed the Declaration, all the Peoples in the colonies who were members became citizens of the new republic with civil rights.
As citizens, each was obligated to give his allegiance to defend the principles and rights listed in the Declaration. In return for that allegiance, each citizen was guaranteed all the civil rights that were listed. That guarantee included safety, an unhindered right of conscience within the limits of the liberty found in the Gospel of the New Testament, and the right to pursue happiness according to the dictates of that right of conscience without the influence of the church or government.

You will notice in the Declaration that the only stated role of the government in this new republic is to secure  those civil rights given to them by God as listed by the founders. Because all who are elected were seen as public servants not lords, any governments that would be created would have no authority to revoke, change, or grant additional rights.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
American Rule of Law


The People of the New England Confederation, a Protestant federation, believed in the principles concerning the Protestant view of "the right of conscience" and " limited government". For more than 130 years, they had maintain a new form of government within each of their colonies and their confederation that supported those principles. Those principles were first stated  in a covenant called "The Mayflower Compact of 1620", made by a small group of Protestants . When England finally brought our founders to a point in history to where they felt that those principles were threatened, they declared their independence as a nation using as a foundation the same concepts that were established by their ancestors in 1620.

God designed us to think in pictures not words. The following illustrations will represent an overview of the historical progression or development of  those principles from 1620 to 1776. This site will then illustrate in detail how those principles were to be applied to  American politics.
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 The United States of America as a Republic
Republican Form of Government
"The New Order" Illustrated on the federal level
"The New Order" Illustrated on the State Level.
"The New Order" Illustrated on the Local Level
Liberty in America

" The Historical Progression of American Politics Illustrated From 1620 - 1787 "
God's God's Law of Nature V. Human Law
Principle of "Limits placed upon government"
St. George Tucker's Comments on "Blackstone's Commentary on Law"
  Famous Quotes by Thomas Jefferson regarding "liberty" and "Right of Conscience"
Letter to the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Thomas Jefferson's letter concerning the protection of our "right of conscience".
"In God We Trust"
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"Principle of "Limited Consent" Illustrated"
"The Context of the Preamble of U.S. Constitution"
"Citizenship in America"
"Right of Conscience"
"Controlling Congress"