Defund the legislatures?

Via Arnold Kling: “From a liberty-coercion perspective, [the slogan ‘defund the police’ is] a misdirected effort. Excess coercion comes from unnecessary laws and unaccountable enforcement. For libertarians, reform would start with having fewer laws. Those who enforce the laws should be accountable for acting within the law themselves.” I could not agree more!

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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7 Responses to Defund the legislatures?

  1. Craig says:

    OK, not to get Godelian here, but that’s exactly what I will do. Is it even possible, in a Godelian sense, for an enforcer of the law to act within the law?

    • Craig says:

      Meaning, is there not a “meta-law” in which enforcers of the law must inhabit. If so, who writes that meta-law and shall the rest of us have a look at it?

    • I love that question. Put another way, if X gets to decide what the law is, then is X acting within the law or outside of it? There is a beautiful little book by Giorgio Agamben called “State of Exception” that explores these types of questions.

      • Craig says:

        I will look into Agamben’s writing.

      • Craig says:

        Hmmm, maybe I was not thinking about “state of exception” here, unless you are suggesting that the police operate continuously in a state of exception or necessity. From Irizarry: “The material nature of the problem can manifest itself in different ways. For example: 1) the legal order does not contain a provision that provides solution to the conflict, 2) identifies a rule that appears to address the conflict, but its content or scope is not clear, or 3) identifies a solution to the conflict that seems appropriate according to the nature of the problem, but is prohibited in the system.” It seems that the well-publicized incidents of police abuse-of-power can *at best* (being generous as to the state of mind of the police officer) fall under the guise of #3 — but more often it is a case of applying a “solution to the conflict” that may be allowed in the system, but is grossly misapplied in the circumstance. I personally don’t think police operate continuously in a state of exception, and if they do, and they see their jobs that way, then yes, police culture (and our expectations of them) need to be overhauled.

        What my original point was, is that a police officer never arrests himself. He/she is given a set of guidelines for enforcing a subset of the law but is only “honor-bound” to observe the guidelines. His/her abuses only get punished if someone else catches them and turns them into even “higher” authorities… who are not out there patrolling the patrollers. So bystander videos have become a powerful tool of “citizen arrest” in light of the laxness of higher authorities (and an officer’s peers) enforcing the laws applying to policing. Bystanders “know abuse when they see it” but they do not really have access to the rulebook/guidelines for police conduct. That was sort of my point — that part of “the law” seems pretty invisible to most people, which gives an impression to the public that the police by-and-large operate by the seat of their pants (“state of exception”?)

      • These are excellent points. To the extent the police must rely on violence to enforce compliance with their commands, the question becomes: is this state-sanctioned violence part of the law (just as tackles are part of the rules of football), or is such violence an authorized exception to the rule of law?

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