Ius & Iustitium

We are happy to announce Ius & Iustitium, a new blog associated with The Josias. It will focus on jurisprudence, discussing both theoretical matters and current events from an integralist perspective. The title is meant to evoke both the more general and the more particular.

The word ius or jus, usually translated “right,” has a range of meanings:

  1. In its primary sense it means the just thing (or action), that is the thing or action due to another (objective right). That is, it is the object of the virtue of justice. For example, a fair share of the spoils of battle is due to Achilles— it is his right. Or, money is due to the baker who gives me the loaf. The spoils or the money are themselves the right. That is, it is not primarily that Achilles has a right to the spoils, but rather that the spoils are his right.
  2. Nevertheless, by analogy of attribution one can say that the subjective power that Achilles has over the spoils (that is the moral power that he has to unhindered possession and use of them) can also be called a right (subjective right).
  3. In many languages a further extension of the analogy is made by which the name right is also given to that by which we know what is due to whom, that is, the science and the art of jurisprudence. In English it is customary to say that one ‘studies law,’ whereas in other languages it is customary to say that one ‘studies right.’ Strictly speaking, law is a source of right. The prudence of the law-giver distributes objective rights with a view to the common good. The jurist, looks at the various kinds of law (divine, natural, canonical, civil, etc.) to determine what is due in particular cases. The jurist looks at the whole ‘juridical order,’ that is, the whole system of rights, which is directed to the common goods of the various societies which persons make up.
  4. In Latin there is yet another analogical extension of the word ius to mean the institutions for administering justice, or the business of the courts of justice. Thus a man can be said to appear in jure, meaning in a legal proceeding in a court.

The term iustitium means a suspension of normal juridical proceedings. It is probably derived from ius sistere, where ius is taken in sense 4: legal business. In particular exceptional emergencies the common good can actually demand that normal juridical procedures be suspended. Thus Cicero writes in the fifth Phillipic:

I think that the business that is to be done must be done without any delay and instantly. I say that it is necessary that we should decree that there is sedition abroad, that we should suspend the regular courts of justice (iustitium edici), order all men to wear the garb of war, and enlist men in all quarters suspending all exemptions from military service in the city and in all Italy except in Gaul.

Iustitium too can be extended by analogy to refer to the kind of action that is necessary when the juridical establishment has become corrupt, giving the primacy to subjective rather than objective right, thus severing the juridical order from the common good.

It is our hope that Ius & Iustitium will be helpful in carrying principles of Catholic integralism into juridical debates that are so crucial to the realization of the common good in our time.