Denver Bar Association
March 2012
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From the President: Natural Law vs. Man’s Law

by JJ Henrikson

JJ Henrickson

 

Editor’s note: This month JJ Henrikson, husband of DBA President Ilene Bloom, offers a guest column.

 

A

s a non-lawyer, I find the legal process to be fascinating. I have learned the important place that the laws we have created play in almost every aspect of our lives. From our personal lives—marriage, parenting, voting, driving a car—to our professional lives—employment, taxes, unions, state licensing, and regulation—the laws of man are everywhere. Even after death, there are laws that dictate how our remains and estates are handled. In a democratic society, these laws are created by men and women to regulate the relationships we have with our fellow humans in every conceivable arena.

I have been married to Ilene Bloom for six years and we were together as a couple for four years before our union was recognized by the state. During this time, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to more information about the law and legal process than most non-lawyers would be comfortable with.

My past occupation as a licensed professional engineer and my current career in real estate and land development have given me a keen insight into the difference between the laws that man has created and the laws that were created by—let’s call her Mother Nature. At the University of Colorado College of Engineering and Applied Science, I studied the laws of physics, the laws of chemistry, and myriad other "laws" that control the manipulation and engineering of the earth and its elements into useful items for you and me. From building a bird house to a skyscraper, the laws of physics, chemistry, and engineering dominate, notwithstanding building codes, permits, and other impositions of man. Indeed, the building codes and permitting processes are based on the laws of Mother Nature for the safe construction and operation of the facility on her terms. The laws of Mother Nature govern man’s relationship and interaction with the earth and our natural surroundings.

Unlike the laws of man, the laws of Mother Nature are unchanging and permanent. Immigration rights, the death penalty, a woman’s right to abortion, and a host of other laws have been either legal or illegal depending on the laws that man has implemented at various times. As a democratic society (hopefully) progresses, the laws of man are manipulated to conform to the values of the majority in that period of time. Laws written in the United States are therefore part of a working document that is altered and amended over time (see the U.S. Constitution)—thankfully so, considering topics such as slavery, suffrage, and even Prohibition.

The laws created by Mother Nature are firm and fixed, just like you want a bridge or the foundation of your house to be firm and fixed. Congress can vote unanimously to change the acceleration rate of gravity, the coefficient of friction of rubber on ice, or the elastic modulus of metal; however, these changes will be instantly and continuously vetoed by Mother Nature. Gravity is, and practically speaking, will always be 32.2 ft/sec2, no matter how many times we vote on it.

So, the next time that you are driving through the mountains during a snowstorm, be considerate of which laws matter most at a given time. Should you be bold enough to break the laws of man, you might get a ticket for speeding or for reckless driving and causing an accident. This no doubt will have an impact on your finances, as well as your right to operate a motor vehicle in the state of Colorado. But should you attempt to break the laws set by Mother Nature under these same circumstances, your car may slide on the ice and over a cliff, ending in an unfortunate tragedy—simply confirming Mother Nature’s laws of gravity, friction, and the compressive strength of steel. D

DBA President Ilene Bloom would like to thank her husband for taking an interest in her column and contributing this article!


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