With with interpreting the law. The five

With regards to “The Case of Speluncean
Explorers,” the varying positions of the five justices resemble not only the
potential for disagreement among the court itself, but furthermore, highlights
the range of thought and reason that coincide with interpreting the law. The
five justices had mixed responses to the Chief Executive’s proposed decision to
find the defendants guilty of murder and thus deserving of execution. Justice
Truepenny affirms the convictions, but stresses the ambiguity of the case and
proposes clemency at the hands of the Chief Executive. Alternatively, Justice
Foster sets aside convictions and argues that the defendants were in a “state
of nature,” where laws failed to apply as they normally would—even if they were
to, the focus should be on intent or purpose of the law, not solely the literal
context. Justice Tatting rebuts Foster and identifies the problems with the
“state of nature” and ruling with respect to “purpose” or “intention” of the
law. He withdraws due to competing legal rationales and emotions. Justice Keen
takes a stricter stance and deems the law as it stands (stare decisis).
Affirming the convictions, he interprets the law as the law and moral
considerations as irrelevant. Finally, Justice Handy sets aside convictions and
argues that the court ought to take account of public opinion and common sense,
seeing law and government as a human affair.

If I were to be confronted with the facts
of this case, I would have aligned most with the opinion of Justice Handy.
Justice Handy believed that the law should be framed and supported by public
opinion and since a poll revealed the majority populace wanted to have the
defendants receive a lesser punishment, the judges should comply. Handy’s
reasoning is most persuasive as he addresses the question of practicality to be
exercised in the context of human realities rather than of conceptual
principles. The belief in the legitimacy of the judicial branch to reflect the
will of the people, seeing how the courts’ decisions shape society, is a
convincing aspect to Handy’s argument as he clarifies the practical
implications of a court decision. Handy demonstrates the advantages of treating
concepts of law as instruments of practical wisdom (common sense) to reach a
fair decision.

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The outcome of the case was unjust. While
bound to uphold the dictates of law and encouraged to take precedence into
account, the Supreme Court is not obligated to ignore common sense and humanity
in order to uphold an immoral verdict. The practicality of the execution’s
result is a primary consideration and while hanging provides an outlet for the
human demand of retribution, it fails to provide for the rehabilitation of the
wrongdoer. Additionally, the life of the ten workmen killed will not be
justified, and the punishment itself will not contribute to maintaining a
system of social control. Rather, the 90% of citizens who supported pardoning
the defendants and issuing a nominal punishment would be ignored and put in
discomfort. Therefore, I would have ruled in favor of the defendants, setting
aside the convictions and assigning a lesser punishment. Based on Handy’s
convincing argument, the function of the law is to maintain a system of social
control while facilitating social life. Sentencing the defendants to death
contradicts the facilitation of social life and thus emphasizes the need to
primarily consider the practicality of results given the application of the
law. Seeing government as “a human affair” and that men are ruled not by
abstract theories, but by other men, justifies that society is ruled well when
those who lead understand the feelings of the masses.

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