Law is a guideline and a set of rules which apply to all citizens of a country. However, sometimes the law may only be for a specific race class or ethnic community and may favor the majority and maybe there to repress or discriminate against a minority. In this case, the question arises, is it just to break unjust laws? This paper argues in favor of the statement that it is quite just to break unjust laws. This argument is presented through the arguments presented by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Junior was a civil rights activist who was jailed time and again for his role in the civil rights movement. He in his Letter from Birmingham jail wrote to a group of clergymen and presented his case as to why he led the protest in Birmingham Alabama.
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Breaking of law in any country is illegal, however when some laws are obeyed and others are not like when the Supreme Court passed the 1954 ruling abolishing segregation it was not followed in the southern states. This means that there are just laws and unjust laws. As Dr. King argues that it is a person’s moral obligation to obey all the just laws, in the same way, it is also a moral obligation to disobey an unjust law.
A just law is a law that is in line with God’s law and moral law, on the other hand, an unjust law is not in sync with the moral and ethical codes. He uses the argument presented by St. Thomas Aquinas for just and unjust war, according to the Reverend; unjust law is not based on natural and eternal laws. A law that is there to uplift humanity is just while the one which degrades it is unjust. Therefore all laws regarding segregation are unjust as they not only impact the minorities physically but also emotionally. These types of unjust laws give an artificial superiority to the segregator and an inferiority complex to those who are segregated.
An unjust law should be broken because it makes it applicable to a certain group of people, only the minorities have to observe and live by it while the majority doesn’t believe that it applies to them. The difference between people for example in the time before the civil rights movement where laws were made by white people and had to be followed by the blacks. These laws are unjust and therefore should be broken.
Secondly when laws are enacted without any involvement of a minority, when they are not allowed to vote and are then imposed with laws that discriminate against them, these laws are unjust and people are justified when they do not obey these laws.
Thirdly some laws may seem just but are unjust when applied, like when people are stopped from assembling and they are not allowed to use their first amendment rights like freedom of speech and movement. These unjust laws restrict people from exercising their basic rights; therefore they are unjust and should be broken.
Unjust laws are meant to be broken and they should be done openly and willingly, people who break these unjust laws should be ready to face any consequences for their actions. People who stand up to these just laws and are willing to bear the penalty have the highest regard for the just laws of the land.