Friday, May 29, 2015

David Hume on the "constitution in exile" movement

"In vain do the lawyers establish it as a principle that a statute can never be abrogated by opposite custom, but requires to be expressly repealed by a contrary statute; while they pretend to inculcate an axiom peculiar to English jurisprudence, they violate the most established principles of human nature; and even, by necessary consequence, reason in contradiction to law itself, which they would represent as so sacred and inviolable. A law, to have any authority, must be derived from a legislature which has right. And whence do all legislatures derive their right but from long custom and established practice? If a statute contrary to public good has at any time been rashly voted and assented to, either from the violence of faction or the inexperience of senates and princes, it cannot be more effectually abrogated than by a train of contrary precedents, which prove that, by common consent, it has tacitly been set aside as inconvenient and impracticable. Such has been the case with all those statutes enacted during turbulent times in order to limit royal prerogative and cramp the sovereign in his protection of the public and his execution of the laws." -- Ch.51, History of England, by David Hume.

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