On the violence of the law

by look i have opinions

“Every law is violent.  We try not to think about this, but we should.  On the first day of law school, I tell my Contracts students never to argue for invoking the power of law except in a cause for which they are willing to kill. They are suitably astonished, and often annoyed. But I point out that even a breach of contract requires a judicial remedy; and if the breacher will not pay damages, the sheriff will sequester his house and goods; and if he resists the forced sale of his property, the sheriff might have to shoot him.

“This is by no means an argument against having laws.

“It is an argument for a degree of humility as we choose which of the many things we may not like to make illegal.”

—Stephen L. Carter (x)