When Is It Ok To Break The Law?

When Is It Ok To Break The Law
Is it acceptable to break the law under certain circumstances? Law is defined as; the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties. It should be acceptable to bend the law if it is used for good intentions.

Laws are meant to keep people safe, but under certain conditions they are over controlling, and they need to be broken. It can be beneficial or even life saving at times to break the law, but it is not acceptable to break the law at all times. There are exceptions to the law, and they need to be recognized when the time is right.

Imagine if a government started to kill its own people in an uncontrollable and psychotic manner. This would be a time where the people would have to rebel, or fight back, against the governing body in control. The law would be broken because attacks to this scale would be illegal, but it is all in an effort to save harmless civilians being murdered by an irrational higher power.

  • If the innocent people do not break the law and fight back, then more innocent people die and it creates a more unsafe environment.
  • The law needs to be show more content These people believe that the law is too threatening to find any loophole for the greater safety of people.
  • However, these people do not see that there are justifications to the law in some cases that are positive and are for the good/safety of people.

For example, driving over the speed limit, or recklessly, to rush someone in critical condition to the hospital would be a time when justifying the law would be acceptable with the intention of saving a life. The driving illegally for someone’s safety would also be acceptable if a woman is in labor and needs to get to the hospital as quickly as possible before she gives birth.

Why should people generally do everything they can to avoid breaking the law?

Related Material –

Learning objectives To explore the nature of people’s legal responsibilities. To explore the distinction between moral and legal obligations.
Student tasks Students analyse a moral dilemma in a plenary discussion. Students critically evaluate reasons for legal obedience. Students suggest situations in which a moral duty might override the duty to obey the law.
Resources Copies of the story “Schmitt’s Dilemma”. Paper for written tasks. Blackboard.
Methods Shared analysis of moral dilemma. Teacher-supported analysis. Story writing. Plenary discussion.


Law: A rule made by local or national government. Rule of law: In democratic societies, governments and those in power are subject to the law of the land. Power changes hands democratically according to the rules of the country’s constitution, not as the result of force or war. People have a general duty to obey the law because it is democratically decided. Legal duty: The obligations people have put upon them by the law. Moral responsibility: The personal obligations people feel based on their beliefs about what is right and wrong.

The teacher introduces the story “Schmitt’s Dilemma” and asks students to work in pairs to consider whether Schmitt should break the law and steal the money or not. The teacher writes different opinions on the blackboard as to whether Schmitt should steal the money. The teacher asks the students to choose an opinion they agree with and add their own reason in writing:

  • Schmitt should steal the money because
  • Schmitt should not steal the money because
  • The teacher notes the range of reasons suggested by the students on the blackboard. For example,
  • “He should steal the money because his daughter’s life is more important than the law against stealing”;
  • “He should not steal the money because he could get caught”; or
  • “He should not steal because it is wrong to break the law”.

The different reasons are then discussed in class. Why are they different? Are some reasons better than others? The teacher then asks the students to complete this sentence:

  1. “It is generally wrong to break the law because”
  2. Alternatively the teacher could ask the class to think of as many reasons as they can as to why it is wrong to break the law. Typically, in answer to this question, people come up with a range of replies, including the following:
  3. “It is wrong to break the law because:
  • you could get caught and be punished;
  • the law protects people from harm and it is wrong to harm other people;
  • everyone would go wild if the law did not stop them;
  • law-breaking undermines trust between people;
  • society needs law and order to survive, without laws there will be chaos;
  • law-breaking violates individual people’s rights, such as their rights to property or to life.”
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The teacher points out to the class that people have a range of reasons for obeying the law. Some of these have to do with self-interest, other reasons show concern for other people and some show a concern for the well-being of society as a whole (see note below).

To illustrate these concepts, the teacher could draw a series of three concentric rings on the blackboard with “self”, “others” and “society” written in each ring, starting from the inner ring. The different reasons should be written in the appropriate area. The teacher stresses that legal obedience of itself is not necessarily a sign of a “good citizen”.

Many wrong deeds have been committed by people who were in fact obeying the law, saying they were only “doing their duty”. On the other hand, the story shows that from time to time even good people might have to consider breaking a particular law for a morally good reason.

  1. To support the students’ understanding of the difficult balance between legal duties and moral responsibilities, the teacher then asks the students to write their own short stories in which people (for good reasons) consider breaking the law.
  2. Examples might be breaking the speed limit in an emergency or defying a law because it is bad or unjust.

Some of the students read their examples aloud in the plenary discussion. The teacher then underlines the distinction between moral responsibilities (which people take upon themselves as part of their own values and beliefs) and legal duties, which are imposed by governments.

  1. The tensions between these two kinds of responsibility may lead citizens to criticise some laws they disagree with and to work to change them.
  2. They may even, on occasion, decide to break some laws for morally positive reasons.
  3. History offers many examples of situations in which people have broken laws in order to protest against them or to rebel against tyrannical governments.

The teacher should illustrate this with some local examples. The teacher should stress that such actions should not be taken lightly because of the danger of undermining the rule of law, upon which stable democracies depend.

Do people break the law every day?

The average of people breaking the law is 260 times a year or five times a week.

How many laws do people break daily?

Decriminalize the Average Man | Wendy McElroy “Outright innocence is not sufficient to escape the brutality of detention.” If you reside in America and it is dinnertime, you have almost certainly broken the law. In his book Three Felonies a Day, civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimates that the average person unknowingly breaks at least three federal criminal laws every day.

  1. This toll does not count an avalanche of other laws — for example misdemeanors or civil violations such as disobeying a civil contempt order — all of which confront average people at every turn.
  2. An in the Economist (July 22, 2010) entitled “Too many laws, too many prisoners” states, Between 2.3m and 2.4m Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults.

If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan.

By contrast, in 1970, less than one in 400 Americans was incarcerated. Why has the prison population more than quadrupled over a few decades? Why are you, as an average person and daily felon, more vulnerable to arrest than at any other time? There is a simple answer but no single explanation as to how the situation arose or why it continues to accelerate out of control.

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The answer: a constant flood of new and broadly interpreted laws are criminalizing entire categories of daily life while, at the same time, the standards required for arrest and conviction have been severely diluted. The result is that far too many people are arrested and imprisoned for acts that should not be viewed as criminal at all or should receive minimal punishment.

Is it always important to obey every law?

Everyone should obey the law. Obeying the law protects peace, public order, and good health. The First Amendment’s Religion Clauses were designed to protect such a legal system. They aimed to keep a diverse population at peace by giving them one shared system of law.

  • That system sensibly arose from the terrible Wars of Religion, which are the main historical background to religious freedom in the United States.
  • Religions always disagree, and frequently dispute their disagreements.
  • Therefore, the common law cannot be religion -based, and everyone must follow it.
  • Professor Ellis West made this point in his book, The Free Exercise of Religion in America: Its Original Constitutional Meaning, when he concluded “it is highly unlikely that early Americans believed that the free exercise of religion entails a right to religion-based exemptions from civil laws that the government has a right to pass” (p.305).

Occasionally the Supreme Court understands this point, as it did in Employment Division v. Smith, the sensible, yet controversial, case that ruled everyone must obey the law, without judicially-concocted religious exceptions. Smith is frequently criticized, and may be overruled soon.

Post- Smith, moreover, Congress and many state legislatures granted legislative exemptions to religions through their federal and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). It was the federal RFRA, not the Free Exercise Clause, that granted employers the right to refuse contraceptive insurance to their employees in Burwell v.

Hobby Lobby, Even though using contraceptives is a constitutional right, and even though the government was trying to pass universal health care coverage in the Affordable Care Act, i.e., health care coverage that would cover everyone, RFRA’s religious exemption gave many employers the right to disobey health law and set their own no-contraception standard.

President Donald Trump has expanded the exemption so that even more employers can deny their employees the insurance coverage. The employers no longer have a responsibility to report their denials to the government or the insurance company. Trump also threatened to cut off all federal health aid to California because it has a law that requires insurance companies to cover constitutionally-protected abortions.

Trump has also enlarged medical conscience against patients’ rights. Medical personnel already enjoyed extensive conscience clause protection, a legal right given to protect them from providing any service they do not want to provide. Trump’s new religious freedoms policies allow medical personnel to refuse patients for any reason of conscience.

  1. The medical conscience trumps the health of women, LGBTQIs, people of color, minorities, the poor, or anyone the doctor’s or nurse’s conscience dislikes.
  2. The more appropriate, follow-the-law, standard would be to recognize that health law is supposed to protect patients’ health first, not consciences of medical providers.

LGBTQIs are a special object of discrimination. The dissenting justices in the gay marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, urged the protection of anti-gay conscience. Next term, the Supreme Court will hear a case, Fulton v. Philadelphia, in which Philadelphia refused to fund Catholic adoption agencies because they discriminated against same-sex couples in the placement of children.

Philadelphia correctly wants the same antidiscrimination laws to apply to everyone. The religious freedom asked for in the case gives Catholics the possibility of winning a case in which Smith is overturned, and they earn a right to set the law their own way instead of obeying the law as it is. Vaccines are needed by everyone in order to preserve herd immunity and protect each other from disease.

States are learning what happens if they hand out religious or philosophical exemptions, letting people be vaccine-exempt for any personal reason. Outbreaks of measles in California, New York and other states have taught that everyone needs to be vaccinated.

States have been changing their laws to require vaccination, realizing only everyone’s obedience to the health laws can protect everyone else. For many years, religious sex abusers hid their abuse under the argument that the First Amendment protected them from the law. That claim allowed them to hide their abusers’ records, and to protect the abusers instead of the abused.

Gradually the courts learned in many abuse cases that religious people of any status need to be sued and to be required to obey the laws that protect children. Unfortunately, not all states allow these lawsuits to proceed. There is still the wrong idea that unlawful religions are protected from court scrutiny by the First Amendment.

Due to numerous court decisions from both state and federal courts, the First Amendment now leaves religious organizations free to discriminate against anyone they call a minister. According to the Court, the right to discriminate on the basis of age, disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, race and all the other antidiscrimination laws belongs to religions.

This rule is called the ministerial exception, which is an affirmative defense. It generally protects employers instead of employees because the case never gets to trial if the affirmative defense is met. The Ninth Circuit recently ruled, correctly, that a Catholic laywoman and a non-Catholic woman were teachers, not ministers, and so able to sue their employers for disabilities and age discrimination.

  • The Supreme Court was originally scheduled to hear oral argument in the two cases, St.
  • James School v.
  • Biel and Our Lady of Guadalupe School v.
  • Morrissey-Berru, on April 1, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has postponed argument.
  • We wait to see if the Court will affirm the Ninth Circuit, or will instead expand the ability of employers to turn their religious employees into ministers who can never sue for wrongdoing.
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It is hard to imagine a peaceful United States that allows religions a constitutional or statutory right to discriminate against all types of people. A system that, at the same time, allows them tax benefits. Church status with the IRS gives churches tremendous advantages, allowing churches to keep private much information about them.

A whistleblower recently complained that the privacy of the tax laws allowed the Latter-day Saints to make $100 billion in a supposedly tax-exempt investment fund requiring the funds to be distributed. Bob Jones should have set that issue straight. In 1983, the Supreme Court, 8-1, upheld the IRS’s decision to revoke Bob Jones University’s tax-exempt status because the school discriminated on the basis of race.

Justice Samuel Alito asked in the oral argument at Obergefell if Bob Jones would apply to cases involving sexual orientation discrimination: Well, in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax­exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating.

  1. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage? The answer to that question should be yes, but the IRS has not yet moved to make it so.
  2. The non-exempt rule should be applied to all organizations that violate antidiscrimination laws.
  3. They should not have a constitutional right to break the laws and be tax exempt while they do it.

Imagine what that a law-obeying country would look like. Everyone would obey the laws banning racial discrimination, All employers would provide contraceptive insurance, All employers and stores would respect LGBTQI rights, No law would protect child abuse or abusers,

What is it called when someone breaks the law?

Definitions of violator. someone who violates the law. synonyms: law offender, lawbreaker. type of: criminal, crook, felon, malefactor, outlaw. someone who has committed a crime or has been legally convicted of a crime.

Why do we say break the law?

Interesting fact about Break the Law – No one is certain about the origin of the idiom ‘break the law,’ however it is more than likely an ancient one. ‘Break the law’ is closely related to the 15th century term ‘interrupt,’ which originally meant ‘to interfere with a legal right.’ The word ‘break’ comes from the Old English brecan, and the word ‘law’ comes from Old English lagu. When Is It Ok To Break The Law

When someone break the laws it is called?

Definitions of law-breaking. (criminal law) an act punishable by law; usually considered an evil act. synonyms: crime, criminal offence, criminal offense, offence, offense.