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Sample Essay on Ambiguity: Why Some Laws Contradict Each Other

August 2nd, 2017

sample-essay-on-ambiguityWe can face a lot of laws that contradict each other. In this sample essay, we are going to have a look at the contradictory laws in the USA

In an ideal world, all laws would be consistent. However, this is not always the case. In some instances, laws contradict one another. Often, this happens in America when states legalize activities before the federal government does.

For example, consider marijuana laws. In some American states, it’s now legal to own and use marijuana recreationally. The federal government continues to outlaw recreational marijuana usage. Another example regards the difficulty of interpreting immigration laws, which are constantly shifting in the United States depending on political influence.

Maria Teresa Fuentes understands the consequences of this. Although she crossed the American border illegally, she filed paperwork to become a citizen, citing a law which states that illegal immigrants may be granted citizenship if they marry a legal citizen. Unfortunately, Fuentes had previously been deported from the country. Another law states that an individual who has been deported must wait for, at least, 10 years in their home country before they can begin the process of immigrating to the country legally.

There are obvious contradictions between the two laws when applied to this case. Fuentes made an attempt to earn her citizenship via legal means, adhering to the law as she understood it. Because she had been deported once before, her case was unique. In cases like this, interpretation is left to the discretion of a district attorney or judge. Sometimes these cases prompt amendments to laws, but usually, officials make a decision based on their own personal understanding of the statute.

Developments in technology can also result in contradictory laws, especially at the local municipal level. Examples of this are common in the telecommunications industry. In order to facilitate a strong cell service in a given area, providers must either erect new antenna towers or place their towers on existing tall structures. Frequently, they choose to place their antennas on apartment buildings. However, local codes may prohibit commercial, industrial, or similar facilities or developments in that particular zone. Back when the law was originally written, the local government could not have anticipated mobile phone technology.

In these cases, the proper interpretation of the code’s language is essential. Some residents of an apartment building might cite the law in order to prevent the company from installing antennas on their roof. The wireless provider must hire a skilled lawyer who can present an alternate interpretation of the language which would allow for such installations. They can generally make the argument that a wireless antenna installation does not match the definition of a commercial installation at the time the code was written.

For law students, it’s especially important to understand that there are laws on the books which seem to contradict one another. Depending on the nature of the contradiction, the laws may be amended, a judge or district attorney may be responsible for interpreting them, or a corporate lawyer may have to make their case to the local government. The law isn’t always as consistent as many would like, and it’s likely to only become more complex in the future, not less.

References:

  • Bort, R. (2017). JOHN OLIVER LAYS OUT ALARMING CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN STATE, FEDERAL MARIJUANA LAWS. Newsweek
  • Bunn, T. (2013). Contradictory Laws. University of Richmond
  • Duant, L. (2014). State vs. Federal Law: Who Really Holds the Trump Card? The Huffington Post
  • Fernandez, V. (2011). Contradictory Immigration Laws Leave Families in Legal Limbo. New American Media
  • Grossman, A. (2014). Banks to be Allowed to do Business With Marijuana Dispensaries. Wall Street Journal
  • New York Times Staff. (2017). Understanding Transgender Access Laws. The New York Times
  • Sreenivasan, H. (2013). The Connection: Contradictory Marijuana Laws. PBS.org
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