The Revolution and the Criminal Law
- 368 Downloads
Egyptians had many reasons to overthrow the government of Hosni Mubarak, and to challenge the legitimacy of the interim military government. Strikingly, among the leading reasons for the uprising and for continued protest are reasons grounded in criminal justice. Reflection on this dimension of the Egyptian uprising invites a broader examination of the relationship between criminal justice and political legitimacy. While criminal justice is neither necessary nor sufficient for political legitimacy, criminal injustice substantially undermines political legitimacy and can provide independent reasons for revolution. A state may compromise its legitimacy by committing criminal acts, by perverting or subverting the criminal process, and by failing to discharge its duty to punish serious wrongdoing—a duty that then falls to individuals to discharge either directly (through vigilantism) or indirectly (through revolution). Contrary to the views of many leading criminal law theorists, the duty to punish serious wrongdoing applies to individuals and not only to states. The relevance of political legitimacy to criminal justice is more complicated. Individuals are morally obligated to follow the morally justified laws of an illegitimate state, but are not morally obligated to follow the morally unjustified laws of a legitimate state. Nor may any state punish in the absence of moral wrongdoing and moral fault. However, illegitimate states may be incapable of justly holding individuals accountable to the state, to the community, or to victims through criminal trials. This incapacity provides an additional reason to overthrow illegitimate states and replace them with legitimate states capable of justly administering a just criminal law.
KeywordsJustice Legitimacy Authority Obligation Revolution Vigilantism Democracy Detention Retributivism Punishment
- Aeschylus. (1969). The Eumenides. In D. Grene & R. Lattimore (Eds.), Aeschylus I: Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Associated Press. (2011). Egyptians protest, demand justice after Mubarak. New York Times, July 8, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/07/08/world/middleeast/AP-ML-Egypt.html?ref=middleeast.
- Berman, M. (2011). Two kinds of retributivism. In R. A. Duff & S. P. Green (Eds.), Philosophical foundations of criminal law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Binder, G. (2002). Punishment theory: Moral or political? Buffalo Criminal Law Review, 5(321), 327–328.Google Scholar
- Cahill, M. (2007). Retributive justice in the real world. Washington University Law Review, 85, 815.Google Scholar
- Christie, N. (1977). Conflicts as property. British Journal of Criminology, 17, 1–15.Google Scholar
- Duff, R. A. (2011). Retrieving retributivism. In M. D. White (Ed.), Retributivism: Essays on theory and policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fletcher, G. P. (2007). The grammar of criminal law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Gardner, J. (1998). Crime: In proportion and in perspective. In A. Ashworth & M. Wasik (Eds.), Fundamentals of sentencing theory: Essays in honour of Andrew von Hirsch. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Gardner, J. (2010). Law and morality. In J. Skorupski (Ed.), The Routledge companion to ethics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hammer J. (2011). Egypt: Who calls the shots? New York Review of Books, August 18, 2011, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/aug/18/egypt-who-calls-shots/?pagination=false.
- Haque, A. A. (2007). Torture, terror, and the inversion of moral principle. New Criminal Law Review, 10, 613.Google Scholar
- Haque, A. A. (2009). Sharing the burdens of justice. In P. H. Robinson, S. Garvey, & K. Ferzan (Eds.), Criminal law conversations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Harel, A. (2007). Why only the state may inflict criminal sanctions: The argument from moral burdens. Cardozo Law Review, 28, 2629.Google Scholar
- Hart, H. L. A. (1968). Punishment and responsibility: Essays in the philosophy of law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hershovitz, S. (2011). The authority of law. In A. Marmor (Ed.), The Routledge companion to philosophy of law. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Husak, D. (2008). Overcriminalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kirkpatrick, D. (2011). Egypt: protests against military spread beyond Cairo to New Cities. New York Times, December 23, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/24/world/middleeast/egypt-protests-against-military-spread-beyond-cairo-to-new-cities.html?ref=middleeast.
- Kirkpatrick, D. (2012). New turmoil in Egypt greets mixed verdict for Mubarak. New York Times, June 2, 2012.Google Scholar
- Law 162/1958, Qanun bi Sha’n Halah al-Tawari’ [Law Concerning the State of Emergency], as amended.Google Scholar
- Lee, Y. (2011). Deontology, political morality, and the state. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 8, 385.Google Scholar
- Markel, D. (2012). Retributive justice and the demands of democratic citizenship. Virginia Journal of Criminal Law, 1, 1.Google Scholar
- Reza, S. (2007). Endless emergency: The case of Egypt. New Criminal Law Review, 10, 532.Google Scholar
- Shadid A. (2011). At Mubarak Trial, stark image of humbled power. New York Times, August 3, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/04/world/middleeast/04egypt.html?hp.
- Sunstein, C. R., & Vermeule, A. (2005). Is capital punishment morally required? Acts, omissions, and life–life tradeoffs. Stanford Law Review, 58, 703.Google Scholar
- Thorburn, M. (2011). Constitutionalism and the limits of the criminal law. In R. A. Duff, L. Farmer, S. Marshall, & V. Tadros (Eds.), Structures of criminal law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar