"It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?"
James Madison
(1751-1836), Father of the Constitution for the USA, 4th US President
Federalist Papers 62
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- Anonymous      
... and the only thing worse, is when the executive branch decides to just ignore the laws of the land!
 -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
    I don't know if it is the sheer volume of rules or malicious misconduct (hopefully the prior, most probably the later) but I am personally knowledgeable of individuals being charged and taken to trial on repealed statutes.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Tax law and the IRS are "...so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood...". Even the IRS denies they are responsible to provide you with the correct interpretation of these laws. But what law makes us liable to pay taxes?
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    The definition of where our country is today. I had hoped the "conservative" Republican party being in control would help our nation get back on track, but it hasn't happened. Unconstitutional and extraconstitutional laws continue to pour through the legislature unabated. I think now that the earlier stalemate was better. At least that slowed the growth of the federal government a little. The effect of these "voluminous" laws as Madison stated above is that people start getting in the habit of ignoring the laws which promotes anarchy. Then no laws are considered binding.
     -- Mike, Mount Holly, NC     
     -- David L. Rosenthal      
     -- Anonymous     
    Congress critters admit they do not even read the laws they pass. NAFTA is 20,000 pages and there is not one congressman who voted for it who read it. The IRS is a perfect example of regulations gone out of control.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
     -- S. Robertson, Neosho,MO      
    Nancy Pelosi: "We have to pass it [ObamaCare], to find out what's in it." You've GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! It is time that 'We The People' took back our REPUBLIC...and we better do it THIS election season!! 2012
     -- GWAP, Florida     
    As to "rule, which is little known, and less fixed", I have also in the last while come in contact with dozens of individuals that are in prison indefinitely with out benefit of trial. It is exponentially getting worse quickly.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    The scary part is that Congress is busy passing new laws daily.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
    Internal Revenue Service Publication 515, page 2. Withholding Exemptions. Evidence of residence.
    There has been 60 years now of brainwashing, of the citizens. Much more info is needed in conjunction with the 515, of which I am cautious to display.
    Publication 515 instructs the ( employer ) withholding agent as follows on page 2 column 3 : " If an individual gives you a written statement , in duplicate, stating that he or she is a citizen or resident of the United States, and you do not know otherwise, you may accept this statement and are relieved from the duty of withholding the tax. "
     -- Ron w13, Or     
     -- Mary - MI      
    Obamacare, NDAA, Patriot Act, regulations from the EPA, DEA, FDA, IRS, BATF -- thousands upon thousands of statutes for which 'ignorance of the law is no excuse.' What a joke -- for which millions pay a hefty price every year. Something has got to give -- how much tighter will we allow the noose?
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Drain the SWAMP , the very definition of usurping from the people!
     -- Frank, Boston     
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    I’ve heard this was James Madison for years and now I’m seeing people have attributed it to Alexander Hamilton. So which is it? 
     -- Troy, Northfield     
    The Federalist Papers were written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay under the collective pseudonym "Publius" to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution.  

    The scholarly detective work of Douglass Adair in 1944 postulated the following assignments of authorship, corroborated in 1964 by a computer analysis of the text:

    Alexander Hamilton (51 articles: Nos. 1, 6–9, 11–13, 15–17, 21–36, 59–61, and 65–85)
    James Madison (29 articles: Nos. 10, 14, 18–20,[15] 37–58 and 62–63)
    John Jay (5 articles: Nos. 2–5 and 64).

    See https://books.google.ca/books?id=LJXaBwAAQBAJ

     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
  • 1
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