Nephite Constitutional Government
The Book of Mormon is the most accurate work on government that we have. It is wonderful to study the words of the Constitution. It is great to read the words of the Founding Fathers as well as John Locke, Blackstone, Montesquieu and others. But if we want to truly understand the very heart of our Constitutional law, we should study the Book of Mormon. It is the key to restoring liberty and law in our nation today.
The Nephite civilization originated under a monarchial system. King Mosiah, after pouring over ancient scripture, returned the Nephite nation to ancient principles of freedom revealed to Adam, Moses and others. Mosiah transformed the Nephite political government into a constitutional republic.
Aspects of Mosiah’s laws
Lord sanctioned Laws of Mosiah (Helaman 4:22)
“And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people; and they saw that their laws had become corrupted, and that they had become a wicked people, insomuch that they were wicked even like unto the Lamanites.” (Helaman 4:22)
Judges judged according to the commandments
A fundamental principle of Republican government can be found in the Book of Mormon. Nephite judges, corresponding to our elected representatives, were appointed to judge the people according to the laws of God. They were not elected to legislate according to their current mood or whim.
“nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.” (Mosiah 29:11)
“Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.” (Mosiah 29:25)
The Book of Mormon also warns that if the time ever comes that the leaders do not judge the people according to the commandments of God, destruction is not far away.
“And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.” (Mosiah 29:27)
Judges were chosen by voice of the people
The Nephite populace assembled together in bodies to cast in voices.
- Mosiah 29:25 – “Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the claws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.”
- Mosiah 29:39 – “Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them.”
Lower judges could judge or “check” higher judges
- Mosiah 29:28–29 – “And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge. If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people.”
“every man [enjoyed] his rights and privileges alike”
- Mosiah 29:30–32 – “And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads. For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings. And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.”