Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929-1968) US civil rights leader

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote

“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws, but conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ratings and Comments

Elizabeth Lui, LA

This should apply to soldiers serving in the military who fight wars that go against their consciences.

Mike, Norwalk

In the eternal scope of things, there are only just laws, man's corporeal rules contrary to that are tyrannical mis-direction.

Joe, Rochester, MI


Me Again
  • Reply
Me Again    7/27/06


David L. Rosenthal

Unfortunately, humans are extremely capricious about what they will accept as just.

Logan, Memphis, TN

Absolutely... Mike, well said.

David L. Rosenthal

Elizabeth: In the United States, one may abstain from combat by refusing to sign up in the armed forces. If one becomes a soldier, one is agreeing to obey the commander in chief and his subordinates, and has already agreed to go to war when the commander orders it. There are orders that do not have to be obeyed, considered illegal, as those which violate the rules of combat. But the decision to wage war is not left to the individual. During times when a draft is in process, one may declare oneself to be a conscientious objector, and refuse to enter the military service. But that is only respected in cases of documented objection, based on the lifestyle of the individual. In this country, if you are really opposed to war, you do not have to fight. If you are in the military, you have already taken an oath to fight when ordered. Those who do not wish to fight should never take that oath.

E Archer, NYC

Therefore we are all responsible for following our own consciences -- Liberty depends on it.

K. Steven Monk, Jasper, GA

MLK was a plagiarist. To get the truth about him go to

O. Delusional Liberal

To further the military discussion, what are your opinions on conscientious objector status being only granted to people who oppose war no matter what? What if you believe a particular war is abominable and can't imagine yourself fighting in it, but you do believe in some cases war could be justified?

p.barber, f.mill

yesss . couldnt have said it any better .

SCSURFR, La Mirada

This is simply another “feels good, sounds good” quote. If I and you are free to disobey laws we believe as unjust, then what’s the point of having any laws? If this were truly the case there would be no need for laws since we would all just follow our consciences. The real discussion should be centered on what is used to determine the criteria for a definition of “just.”

Mike, Norwalk

SCSURFR, Your perception and depiction of what 'law' is, is based on a philosophy that is called legal positivism (promoted by both ends of the publicly propagandized socialist system - i.e. -Democrat / Republican, liberal / conservative, communist / fascist, progressive / neo-con, etc.). The original established jurisprudence of the de jure States united, the Constitution and all executive, legislative and judicial branches thereof is a recognition of natural law (spelled out in the Declaration of Independence as the laws of nature and of nature's God). At natural law, man can NOT create, make or alter law in any way. The law already exists. Man can only make unlawful tyranny and despotism by his god/man codes, rules, statutes etc. The point of having what is now called laws (codes, rules, statutes) in the de jure States united jurisprudence is to best "ORDER", the administrations of the noble being man's natural law inalienable rights (anything more or less than that is tyranny). When such codes, rules, statutes leave the scope of ordering tools and become the 'LAW' of the god/man, tyranny and despotism is expressed. It is those god/man's (not natural) laws of legal positivism (tyranny and despotism) that are to be disobeyed. I do not know about you (you may enjoy being a slave ?) but, as for me, I am free. From my perspective, I do not as much disobey the legal positivist's tyranny and despotism as I order myself according to natural law (I drive on the right side of the street, I drive at a safe speed, I don't commit larceny or murder, I fall down - gravity, etc.). I know the despots claim that I am disobeying their god/man laws. Disobedience to the god/man's tyranny and despotism is the freedom, liberty, law and order that Dr. King is here addressing. Very quickly, 'just' is an extension of natural law while, applied justice restores natural law (only the application or end result is open to discussion) I hope that begins to answer your question.


Get a Quote-a-Day!

Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box daily.