Whose Jurisdiction Is It?

Oak Brook College of Law challenges students to analyze legal and public policy issues from a Biblical and historical perspective. In the United States, the Biblical and the historical are not unrelated to each other. Our Founding Fathers clearly implemented Biblical principles into our Constitution and our legal institutions. Some of the numerous examples of principles taken from the Bible are the jury system, separation of powers, burden of proof, inalienable rights, freedom of association, and the jurisdictional boundaries of authority.

With any legal policy question, in addition to asking what should be done, we must also ask who has the authority to do something about the problem. This approach is critical if we are going to adhere to the philosophy of government of our Founding Fathers. Civil government is only one jurisdiction and it does not have the authority to address all issues.

The purpose of civil government at any level is to punish those who do evil and to encourage those who do good. As stated in the Declaration of Independence, the purpose of civil governments of general jurisdictions (as opposed to the national government of limited jurisdiction) is also to secure and to protect the inalienable rights of its citizens. These rights include association, life, property, and the free exercise of religion. Police powers are limited and cannot be exercised to deprive people of their inalienable rights or to improperly encroach upon the jurisdictions of the family and the church.

Is there a legal issue of interest to you? In addition to asking what should be done, ask yourself who has the Biblical and constitutional authority to address the problem. Respecting the jurisdictional boundaries of authority can often resolve unnecessary conflicts in the policy making arena.