From No Treason
You bandy about the words 'illegal' and 'lawbreaker' as if they had moral content. They donít.
Werenít Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and all the founding fathers lawbreakers? Wasnít Thoreau? Or Martin Luther King?
Wasnít the Declaration of Independence itself an act of lawbreaking?
Men have no moral obligation whatsoever to obey or even recognize immoral laws, including many immoral laws that you are party to. Stop using law as a proxy for morality in your arguments. There is no necessary relationship between the two.
Regarding, what else lately, the immigration "debate".
The first sentence is quite correct, importantly so. The remainder, except for the last sentence, isn't worth quoting except as an example of how those who should know better too often have no clue what it is they are debating about. He might have convinced me he had a clue if he'd left out the word "necessary" in that last sentence.
You see, even these verbal battle-tested libertarians continue to see ideal law as a prime mover. Why else assert the right to disobey immoral laws if not as contrast to a duty to obey those that are not immoral? Why else trot out the authority of those we respect except to differentiate their disobeyance of laws they found illegitimate from their obeyance of laws they did not?
I'm not talking about the gross failure of our legal system to craft laws that deserve our obeyance - though that fact is certainly indisputable - nor some anarchic view that no law is legitimate and therefore no law morally obligates us.
No, it's deeper than that. Even accepting the premise that there are legitimate laws buried in among the avalanche of illegitimate ones, there is still nothing in the law that compels us to moral submission. That's not what laws are for.
Roll that one around in your head a bit before I go on, and think about the entire edifice of beliefs built on this one premise that even among you freest of thinkers goes unquestioned, even while you question all other things political:
Laws are not there to tell us what to do. Laws are not there to guide our actions. They never have been and never will be. That's not the purpose of law.
In the conceptual heirarchy of right and wrong, good and bad, should and shouldn't, laws don't come first. They don't come in the middle.
They come last.
Laws are a consequence, not a cause. Laws, legitimate ones anyway, are not made, they are discovered. Laws are identifications of facts of reality, of behaviors that cannot be tolerated by rational men. Laws don't tell anyone how to behave, they tell anyone what the consequences of their behavior might be. Laws, even in the idealistic utopia of perfect governance, are nothing more than prior announcement of the form of reaction to rationally intolerable behavior.
Laws come into moral context once we have chosen actions that trigger some reaction from the body poltic. Some laws may certainly come into practical context prior to that choice. But only laws we believe to be illegitimate come into practical context a-priori. The practical evaluation of the consequences of a law we find legitimate is pre-empted by our moral aversion to commiting the action it addresses - the law has no effect in such case. It is only when an action we believe to be moral runs counter to a law that we even consider the law in deciding our actions, and then not in the moral realm, but merely in the practical.
We are prevented from acting counter to a legitimate law by the pre-exiting moral constraint such a law recognizes, whether such law actually exists or not. We are prevented from acting counter to an illegitimate law only when the expected practical consequences of doing so outweigh the benefits of doing so. In neither case is moral consideration of the law itself of any relevance whatsoever.
Laws are solely aimed at those who would govern us. Their only purpose is to inform them
what they are or are not authorized to do in response to our actions. The authorities, legitimate or not, are in a special class of people, uniquely subject to prior constraint by law. That's the price they pay for claiming authority, not from social or legal construct, but as an inescapable corollary to the concept of authority.
Legitimate or not, only those who govern must consider the moral implications of the law prior to acting, because it is only they whose actions arise from the word of law. And consider it they must, because they and they alone, those who act, are responsible for those actions, no matter what moral authority the law claims to give them.