Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Roscoe Pound on Masonic Law-Making

"The will of the emperor had the force of law; hence the will of the people is to have the force of law. But a confusion was involved here. The emperor owed it to his subjects to use his will rationally when willing law. The power to give his declarations of will the force of law did not absolve him from obligation to measure the content of those declarations by reason. Our fathers were conscious of this and so sought to limit law-making and give security against arbitrary and capricious action by bills of rights. But these securities are available only within comparatively narrow limits. So long as the theory of law as will prevails, the flood of law-making will continue. In American Masonry we have generally a similar situation, for like reason...

Having no bills of rights in Masonry and hence nothing beyond a handful of vaguely defined landmarks to restrain him, what then are our barriers against the ravages of the zealous, energetic, ambitious Masonic law-maker? Legal barriers, there are none. But some of the most sacred interests of life have only moral security and on the whole do not lose thereby...

Another constraining influence is coming forward with the development of Masonic study. Nothing is so dogmatic as ignorance. A better and more general acquaintance with the history, philosophy, and legal traditions of the craft is certain to make our law-makers more cautions, more intelligent, and more effective. "


Brother Roscoe Pound
Dean - Harvard Law School
Past Master of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 AF & AM Lincoln, Nebraska
Former Deputy Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
Founding Member of Harvard Lodge
Masonic Jurisprudence (1919)

2 comments:

Jason A. Mitchell said...

Having no bills of rights in Masonry and hence nothing beyond a handful of vaguely defined landmarks to restrain him, what then are our barriers against the ravages of the zealous, energetic, ambitious Masonic law-maker?

What then are the barriers that prevent the self-complacency of the Craft (Brothers or Lodges) from giving their sovereignty to another power. How do we prevent self inflicted servitude.

J.

Steven Caylor said...

The excellent phrase "Nothing is so dogmatic as ignorance" may not be original with Dean Pound, as quoted in the excerpt from "Masonic Jurisprudence"
(1919).

This phrase earlier occurs in 1885 on p. 407 of Volume IX of "The Homiletics Review," in a "Symposium On Ministerial Education" by President E.G. Robinson, D.D., of Brown University.