Robert Bolt – A Man For All Seasons: A Play In Two Acts
….William Roper: So, now you’d give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country ‘s planted thick with laws, from coast to coast – man’s laws, not God’s – and if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake….
Certain rights have been considered so important that they are non-derogable. In the three conventions there exist four common non-derogable rights. These are the right to life, the right to be free from torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to be free from slavery or servitude and the right to be free from retroactive application of penal laws. These rights are also known as peremptory norms of international law or jus cogens norms….
Even at the most challenging of time, to the point that the life of a nation itself is in peril, there is no allowable derogation from those principles.
Publisher UN Commission on Human Rights
Publication Date 28 September 1984
Citation/Document Symbol E/CN.4/1985/4
…58. No State party shall, even in time of emergency threatening the life of the nation, derogate from the Covenant’s guarantees of the right to life; freedom from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and from medical or scientific experimentation without free consent; freedom from slavery or involuntary servitude; the right not to be imprisoned for contractual debt; the right not to be convicted or sentenced to a heavier penalty by virtue of retroactive criminal legislation; the right to recognition as a person before the law; and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. These rights are not derogable under any conditions even for the asserted purpose of preserving the life of the nation….
The United States is a signatory to and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
….and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land….
Introduced in the Missouri House on February 29, 2012:
SECOND REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 83
96TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES KELLEY (126) (Sponsor), SCHAD, HAEFNER, BRATTIN, GATSCHENBERGER, HOUGHTON, GUERNSEY, FUNDERBURK, COX, FISHER, LAIR, McNARY, STREAM, THOMSON, DAY, HOSKINS, ENTLICHER, WHITE, DAVIS, WETER, KEENEY, ROWLAND, JONES (89), FRANZ, DIEHL, HUMMEL, HARRIS, PACE, WEBB, FALLERT, CASEY, NICHOLS, BROWN (85), LONG, REDMON, PARKINSON, FREDERICK, JOHNSON, RICHARDSON, HAMPTON, BERNSKOETTER, CONWAY (14), REIBOLDT, SOLON, WIELAND, GOSEN, LANT, PIERSON, BURLISON, BAHR, BLACK, FITZWATER, SMITH (150), SCHOELLER, BROWN (116), HIGDON, WRIGHT, NANCE, RIDDLE, ELMER, LASATER, LARGENT, MOLENDORP, McCREERY, BROWN (50), McGHEE, McCANN BEATTY, McNEIL, LAMPE, STILL, ZERR, BERRY, JONES (63), MAY, HUBBARD, COLONA, QUINN, SHIVELY, HODGES, SMITH (71), LOEHNER, GRISAMORE, DIECKHAUS, SILVEY, KLIPPENSTEIN, FLANIGAN, NOLTE, ASBURY, SCHATZ, SCHIEFFER, HUGHES, ANDERS, ELLINGER, CROSS, SATER, WALLINGFORD, McGEOGHEGAN, SCHIEBER, LEACH, McCAHERTY, SOMMER, ALLEN, LAUER, COOKSON, NASHEED, HOLSMAN, TORPEY, RIZZO, MONTECILLO, FRAKER, MORGAN, BRANDOM AND TILLEY (Co-sponsors) .
6036L.01I D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
Submitting to the qualified voters of Missouri an amendment repealing section 13 of article I of the Constitution of Missouri, and adopting one new section in lieu thereof relating to laws retrospective in operation.
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring therein:
That at the next general election to be held in the state of Missouri, on Tuesday next following the first Monday in November, 2012, or at a special election to be called by the governor for that purpose, there is hereby submitted to the qualified voters of this state, for adoption or rejection, the following amendment to article I of the Constitution of the state of Missouri:
Section A. Section 13, article I, Constitution of Missouri, is repealed and one new section adopted in lieu thereof, to be known as section 13, to read as follows:
Section 13. That no ex post facto law, nor law impairing the obligation of contracts, or retrospective in its operation, or making any irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities, can be enacted; however, a law may be retrospective in its operation with respect to a new obligation, duty, or disability imposed upon sex offenders.
[emphasis in original]
That’s a significant change.
Does anyone not think there would be a court challenge if this is enacted?
Yeah, this is a touchy subject. The reality of the impact of sex offenders on society is very real. Those convicted within the law of these offenses are heinous.
The solution? Vigilance. Investment in the infrastructure of public safety. And, if laws are needed, enact them to apply prospectively, not retrospectively.