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Report No. 60

10.5. View of Holmes that there can be no enforceable right against the State.-

In the United States, one of the well-known supporters of the doctrine of "irresponsibility" of the State was Justice Holmes, who stated that there could be no legal "right" against the State, which itself made the law on which the right depended.1 In one of his letters to Laski2, Holmes stated that he could not understand how an instrumentality established by the United States to carry out its will, should undertake to enforce something that is against its will. "It seems to me like shaking one's fist at the sky, when the sky furnishes the energy that enables one to raise the fist."

1. Kawananakoa v. Polyblank, (1907) 205 US 349 (353).

2. Holmes Laski letters, (Howe Ed., 1953), Vol. 2, p. 822.

General Clauses Act, 1897 Back

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