By Charles E. Rice – 1993

The question, can a judge properly use natural law to rule that a statute, or even part of the Constitution itself, is unjust and void?

Yes. […] Justice Harlan said it is the “highest duty” of the Supreme Court to “protect” the “constitutional structure”. The protection of that structure is a high duty of the Court, but, in the nature of things, it cannot be its “highest duty”. Judges are bound to follow the original intent, as far as it can be determined, and they have no right to amend the Constitution according to their own conception of natural law. But this restriction is subject to the fact that although it is the highest enacted law of the nation, the Constitution is itself a form of human law and is therefore subject to the higher standard of the natural law. That standard is supra-constitutional. It sets limits to what the legal system, however it is structured, can do even through constitutional provisions.

Judges should not tailor their interpretations of statutes to fit their own natural law views or other views as to what they would have voted for had they been in the legislature. Instead, they should interpret a statute, as far as ascertainable, according to the intent of the enacting legislature. And if they disapprove of a statute or regard it as unjust, they should not distort the United States Constitution to find such a statute unconstitutional (or, in the opposite case, constitutional).*

*This is an excerpt from 50 Question on The Natural Law: What It Is and Why We Need It, by Charles E. Rice published in 1993, pp92, by Ignatius Press.