Amanda Foreman: When Justice Drowns in Law

I agree with what Amanda says about the damage done when laws are written in an attempt to micromanage things–as many laws now are. Here are some key excerpts:

1. In “The Federalist Papers,” No. 62, James Madison warned his readers against drawing up laws that were unnecessarily dense or complicated: “It will be of little avail to the people…if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

2. “The more laws,” Cicero said, “the less justice.”

3. Palmerston replied, “Well, you know, we have been adding a great many laws to the Statute Book every year, and we can’t go on passing law after law. I think we have almost done enough. A little law reform, a little bankruptcy legislation, and"—he cheerfully rubbed his hands—"I think that will do.” Three years later, Parliament repealed more than 1,300 statutes.