Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Seventh Amendment from a Christian Viewpoint

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

The Seventh Amendment extends protection even to the smallest part of the American citizens' rights. The emphasis here is not really on the amount, which in colonial days would have been much more significant than twenty dollars is now. The emphasis here is on the fact that even when the matter before the court is one involving money that a citizen still has a right to trial by jury. And when the trial has ended, that the facts of the case that have been presented before the jury not be re-examined in any court. This was to protect from the same issue as the fifth amendment protected from with double jeopardy.

A court may not continue to retry a case until it receives a favorable verdict. Likewise, an individual may not continue to retry the same case in hopes of obtaining a favorable outcome.

The Bible makes it clear that lawsuits against a brother in Christ is not acceptable. We are not to air our arguments against one another in front of the pagan world. We may have the legal right to do so and in some cases it is necessary, but if it's a matter of being wronged, the apostle Paul says, Why not rather be wronged?

This has led some Christians to believe that any court action is sinful. But that is not what Paul was saying here. Sometimes to fight for your rights, to defend what is rightfully yours, there must be a fight. Let's just not fight against those we are supposed to be brethren of.

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