What exactly does one do about edicts given from previous rulers, over whose (later) jurisdiction a different party — sometimes a radically different party — comes to bear rule? This problem has plagued rulers since ancient times, and what one does or says about previous authority could easily be used against what they themselves intend as a lasting juridical legacy to aid the cause of justice for more than just one’s own generation.
In particular, how do you prevent someone from leaning to the past in what seems like fringe (or even bizarre) ways that seduce others into rebellious kinds of thinking or actions that can easily lead to breaking the law? Cultic groups have done this, and this kind of practice has gone on since the days Flavius Josephus (ca 90) made mention of Messianic pretenders who led rebellions against the “Roman” authorities.
Let us take the case of the “Medes and the Persians,” “whose edicts cannot be changed or annulled once given” from the Book of Daniel. This is a problem for later (thoughtful) Emperors, rulers of various kinds and kings, especially since the Medo-Persian kingdoms (120 or so “Satrapies” or regions) seemed to span what we now regard as the “Western World.” What was the situation? The Medes and the Persians came to loggerheads under the rule of Cyrus by the account of Herodotos of Halicarnassos (in Asia Minor). They decided that sharing power was a better option than a total war, so they opted to alternate kings — now this time he would be a Mede like Darius I, but the next one would then have to be a Persian ruler.
Now, in order to keep each from simply canceling the orders of his predecessor — Democrats overturn the laws of the Republicans, only to have the next (Republican) ruler do the same (edict cancelation wars) to the Democratic laws passed — they made the laws of both permanent standing orders incapable of cancelation of modification.
Today the parties just say, “oh sure we’ll pass it, but ain’t no way in Hades we’ll fund it; on second thought, we got us a filibuster on right now. Probably kill it by noon. What you got to trade?”
But then later emperors happen along as time passes, and Justinian reads a list of edicts given by Persian and Mede emperors from the past, or else Egyptian pharaohs, that did in fact apply in some, or else all, parts of his jurisdiction? What if they seem lopsided, superstitious, bizarre, or just dead wrong? If you had someone — one person (or body) with worldwide authority — capable of making extremely wise and just judgements, who could obviate the problem by carefully issuing a general cancelation order that supersedes all previous imperial orders for scope and authority rating, you could in fact solve the problem. But you would have to be careful not to overthrow too much.
If you overthrow too little, you would simply offer a great improvement to the legal landscape, removing a massive headache for future leaders. This is in fact what Justinian himself attempted upon the completion of his famous Corpus Juris Civilis (533). He issued a general cancelation order for all the “Roman” (they were actually Greek) legal codes from the various municipalities, which he had had compiled in order to create the CJCiv. Justinian’s effort (IMHO) was exactly on target, but did nothing about the problems of the earlier empires (prior imperial and royal edicts), and not only the edicts they proffered, but also the oral traditions that function as law (de facto), and the earlier written legal codes.
As far as I am concerned, three very important specific targets of such (potential) judicial entanglements ensue in our day — these are those which we cannot afford to leave unchallenged (the first area is ancient law):
- All imperial, royal and other edicts — whether commands to perform or prohibitions,whether edicts general or special in their scope
- All legal codes of the ancient world, until the time of Justinian, inclusive of his own, whether oral or written, de facto or whether de jure
The second target was created as a Christian brotherhood of royal rulers throughout Europe, forming the “Holy Alliance,” (1815 – 1822) which bound all of Europe in a Christian compact together, as led into the oath-based alliance by Czar Alexander II of Russia. At the first, Great Britain declined to join; but it eventually caved in from pressure by many others by 1822. The lone dissenting voices — those who refused to join — were the Vatican and Turkey (then the Ottoman Turks.
The third is called the “Solemn League and Covenant,” a compact formed in part as the result of the Confessional work of the Westminster Assembly (1646-47) in Scotland, which many (usually Presbyteriabns) have falsely taken to bear international and CURRENT authority in lands that were once (formerly) under the rule of the British empire.
All 3 of these categories of law and compacts have to be “abrogated, nullified and rendered altogether of no legal authority whatsoever” for the safety, security and sovereignty of all current nations, empires, leaders and governments worldwide to ensure the peace and safety of their domains and jurisdictions, and to prevent the unlawful abuse of past standards, no longer justifiable in our generation, and which may readily occasion the rebellious temptation to tamper with present and future authority.
I suspect that Justinian would agree that the Medes and Persians left a very dangerous legacy (and very bad legal precedent) behind. Therefore, by the international authority I have been granted worldwide, I am ordering exactly the general cancelation order discussed just above — the categories of ancient law above, the Solemn League and Covenant (1646-7), and the Holy Alliance (1815-22), are hereby “abrogated, nullified and rendered altogether of no legal authority whatsoever” for the safety, security and sovereignty of all current nations, empires, leaders and governments worldwide — to ensure the peace and safety of their domains and jurisdictions, and to prevent the unlawful abuse of past standards, no longer justifiable in our generation, and which may readily occasion the rebellious temptation to tamper with present and future authority.
This category is being added as an addendum — all ecclesiastyical and religious councils, their anathemas (formal curses) and edicts are in like manner forever nullified, that is, rendered of no authority whatever, as a perpetual standing order along with these others.
It is so ordered. Yet any legal code or order of current authorities, which may take its queue from any of the above, to incorporate some aspect of this or that advance at law — is perfectly acceptable, so long as it is carried out according to the law of the land in which the legal innovation in question transpires.