What happens if the law is not fair or just?What happens if the law is not fair or just?

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larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idea of whether a law is unjust or unfair is often a matter of opinion. In American society, the Constitution and a number of state and federal laws make every attempt to ensure fairness and justice. If a law violates the Constitution or if a state law is in conflict with Federal law, it may be declared unenforceable. If it is a matter beyond the court system, the people themselves may change it, in some jurisdictions by initiative and referendum, in others by voting for representatives who will protect their interests. In a country as large and diverse as the United States, however, it is virtually impossible to find a "one size fits all" scenario where everyone is happy. For that reason, we often must balance the rights and interests of groups which conflict and try to arrive at a reasonable balance.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What happens if a law is unjust depends on the nature of the society in which the law exists and the nature of the government that enforces that law.  There can be many variations on what might happen if an unjust law is made.

For example, a relatively compliant populace under an authoritarian government might simply accept an unjust law.  We can argue that this is the case in China today (or in places like Saudi Arabia) where people simply accept laws that we would see as unjust.

By contrast, a people who are no compliant (or no longer compliant) under a less repressive government might rebel against unjust laws.  A perfect example of this can be seen in the Civil rights Movement in the US.  There, people responded to unjust laws by opposing them and, thereby, getting them changed.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It depends on where the law is being applied, as referenced by previous posts. In the United States, there are procedures in place to have the law reviewed and measured against the basis of all law in the USA - the Constitution. If the court system determines that a law does not follow the guidelines established by that framework, it is declared unconstitutional and invalid. If those who advocate the particular law continue to feel it is needed, they are faced with making revisions that will bring it into compliance with the Constitution.

In other countries, other circumstances and procedures dictate what happens. In a dictatorship, whether or not the law is fair or just is irrelevant - the only criteria that applies is if the dictator supports it.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many of these on the books today.  For instance, in my town it is "legal" to beat your wife on the courthouse steps on the fourth Sunday of every month.  However, it is never exercised...first, because there would be many husbands meeting a cast-iron skillet on the evening of the fourth Sunday of every month, and second, because it's unconstitutional.

As posters above have mentioned, unjust laws (such as Obamacare) are reviewed often for their Constituionality.  If they are found unconstitutional, they are thrown out of court proceedings.  These laws should be reversed and/or taken off the books.  If they are not, rebellion is inevitable.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator
In American democracy, we have the recourse of the courts and challenges to a law's constitutionality.meSsme laws are passed and, knowing they were passed for show or for political reasons, law enforcement may be directed not to enforce the law strictly. A judge has the discretion to sentence violators of the law within a broad range, and may choose to give those convicted a "slap on the wrist" or sentence them to time served. A public reaction could include protests and boycotts, which is essentially what happened during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Context is all important, but the majority of democracies have some sort of system of appeal or back up whereby unjust laws can be debated and modified or even scrapped altogether. Of course, this itself opens up debates about the democratic nature of systems of government and how laws are created, debated and then passed. Some would argue that such mechanisms owe more to party politics and to pressure from lobbyists than it does to democracy.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One thing that might happen with a law that is unfair and unjust recently has occurred in some American towns. It has happened in previous times that juries would not convict on a law that was unfair or unjust. Recently, in some towns hard-hit by foreclosures, judges have refused to try cases of eviction believing that to do so was unfair and unjust considering the nature of events that precipitated massive foreclosures.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
In the short run, a lot of good and innocent people will get railroaded from an unfair or unjust law. In the long run, this leads to unrest in the populace and then revolution. It's a story that has been repeated over and over again throughout history. It's how our revolution began. Many colonists felt that they were being unjustly treated by England, so they declared independence.

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