The Law of Nations, Vattel, pub. 1758, Vol. 1 Chapter III § 30 — Of the support of the constitution and obedience to the laws.
. . . The constitution and laws of a state are the basis of the public tranquility, the firmest support of political authority, and a security for the liberty of the citizens. But this constitution is a vain phantom, and the best laws are useless, if they be not religiously observed: the nation ought then to watch very attentively, in order to render them equally respected by those who govern, and by the people destined to obey. To attack the constitution of the state and to violate its laws, is a capital crime against society; and if those guilty of it are invested with authority, they add to this crime a perfidious abuse of the power with which they are intrusted. The nation ought constantly to repress them with its utmost vigor and vigilance, as the importance of the case requires. It is very uncommon to see the laws and constitution of a state openly and boldly opposed: it is against silent and gradual attacks that a nation ought to be particularly on its guard. Sudden revolutions strike the imaginations of men: they are detailed in history; their secret springs are developed. But we overlook the changes that insensibly happen by a long train of steps that are but slightly marked. It would be rendering nations an important service to show from history how many states have thus entirely changed their nature, and lost their original constitution. This would awaken the attention of mankind: — impressed thenceforward with this excellent maxim (no less essential in politics than in morals) principiis obsta, — they would no longer shut their eyes against innovations, which, though inconsiderable in themselves, may serve as steps to mount to higher and more pernicious enterprises.
Charles F. Kerchner, Jr.
CDR USNR Retired
Kerchner et al v Obama & Congress et al
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