Andrew Napolitano on Natural Law and Positivism

by | Jul 30, 2017


Speaking last week at the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s annual Mises University, Andrew Napolitano presented a captivating speech regarding legal issues, including an examination of natural law and positivism.

In the speech, Napolitano, who is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News and a former New Jersey judge, points to the importance of a central concept in natural law that “our rights come from our humanity.” “Now this is not just an academic argument,” Napolitano emphasizes, “because if our rights come from our humanity then they didn’t come from the government and the government can’t take them away.”

While natural law may be seen as the hero standing up for individuals against oppressive government, Napolitano also presents in his speech a villain: positivism. “Positivism teaches that the law is whatever the lawgiver says it is, and, so long as it is articulated, so long as it is written down, so long as it is ratified, then it is the law — no matter who the lawgiver is,” explains Napolitano.

Listen here to Napolitano’s complete speech, in which he also tells some entertaining stories about his time at Fox News.

For further exploration by Napolitano of natural law and positivism, read his introduction for his book Constitutional Chaos.

In that introduction for his book published in 2004, Napolitano presents this dire assessment:

The problem today in America — the greatest and gravest threat to personal freedom in the country — is that the positivists are carrying the day. Under their sway, the government violates the law while busily passing more legislation to abridge our liberties.

Indeed, Napolitano still has much concern regarding respect for liberty in America’s future. As Napolitano says in his final comments after the question and answer period following his Mises University speech, he sees “dark clouds coming” in America, with government growing and liberty diminishing.

Napolitano is a Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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