Justinian’s Code, a History Lesson.

Back in the 6th century, Justinian, emperor of the eastern half of the Roman Empire that we now call Byzantium, decided that the Roman law code had become too, well… byzantine.  He ordered a recodification to consolidate the laws, to resolve conflicts among laws, and to eliminate laws no longer needed.  It was a herculean task back then when everything was hand written.  It would be impossible to do with our law code, even with computers, as we have millions of laws, but wouldn’t it be great if we could eliminate laws that are unconstitutional or no longer in use and resolve conflicts among our laws on a proactive basis?  While it couldn’t be done as one effort, the situation could be improved incrementally.  Why not establish a central database where courts or law firms could report questionable or conflicting laws, and have those laws periodically reviewed by legislators for resolution?

We should also ask why we keep writing more laws about the same thing.  How many laws does it take to say “Thou shalt not kill”?  There are thousands of them, and people still want more.  Doesn’t anyone understand that if 1000 laws don’t prevent a crime, number 1001 probably won’t either because criminals, by definition, don’t obey the law?


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