Thursday, July 14, 2011
Montesqueiu and the American Constitution
Montesquieu also proposed checks and balances between the different powers. This included dividing the legislative power into two bodies.
The Spirit of Laws also made several other contributions to our government:
No cruel and unusual punishments
Montesquieu cites the Valerian and Porcian laws passed in ancient Rome which exempted Roman citizens from degrading and shameful forms of punishment (such as scourging with rods or whips and crucifixion).
In addition, he believed that if punishments are too strict criminals would become "inured to the cruelty of punishments, would no longer be restrained by those of a milder nature". In other words, we should make the punishment fit the crime and not exceed it.
We need strong provinces to have a strong republic, so let states have some control in their governance.
Freedom of speech
"It is not the words that are punished, but an action in which words are employed".
Therefore is OK to say you want to overthrow our government, but don’t actually try it.
Equal rights for women
Montesquieu supports suffrage for woman which he says can flourish in a republic and contribute to its success. "In republics women are free by the laws and restrained by manners". For example women had more rights in ancient Greece and this likely explains the success of that ancient government. Montesquieu also states that women make better leaders as they have "more lenity and moderation, qualifications fitter for a good administration than roughness and severity".