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October 27, 2005

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Brian Leiter

I am certainly sympathetic to much of what you say here, though I must take issue with the thesis that because "She argued her cause in the courts, and she lost...she should have complied with the law, whether she liked it or not. She did not stand on 'principle,' but flaunted our nation’s elemental commitment to the rule of law. In a democratic system, no man is above the law, and neither is any woman." If this were correct, then it would follow (would it not?) that civil disobedience would never be justifiable, which surely can not be correct. I think a more plausible hypothesis is that the moral case for disobeying the court's decision in this instance was not strong enough to overcome the "rule of law" considerations that favored compliance with the law as determined after a fair process.

Daniel Ingber

I am even more cynical than you regarding Judith Miller's motivations. I genuinely believe that Judith Miller purposely went to jail to become a cause celebre and increase her speaking fees and the value of a book deal. I agree entirely that there was nothing heroic about what she did, and it had nothing to do with reporters priviledge.

geoffreystone

Response to Brian Leiter: I think civil disobedience is appropriate only if one can make the case that the legal or political system is dysfunctional, immoral, or corrupt. In this instance, no such claim is plausible. Miller just disagrees with the Congress and the Supreme Court. It's her right to disagree, but that doesn't make it right to disobey.

Nit Picker

> "She did not stand on “principle,” but flaunted our nation’s elemental commitment to the rule of law."

I think you mean "flouted", not "flaunted". They are rather different.

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