Objectivism on Legislative Authority

Freeman's paper lead me to check whether the Objectvist political philosophy reserves any room for legislative bodies or legislative authority. Peikoff in OPAR is equivocal.
On the one hand he says:

The only system of laws that excludes every element of the nonobjective–of the indefensible and the unknowable–is one that confines legislation to the protection of rights.

[OPAR, 365}
This, along with other things Peikoff says, seems to imply that a political body may legitimately legislate “objective” law. Yet, turn the page, and we get this:

This purpose [barring the use of initiatory coercion] entails three and only three governmental functions. In Ayn Rand's statement, these are: “the police, to protect men from criminals–the armed services, to protect men from foreign invaders–the law courts, to settle disputes among men accoding to objective laws.” Any additional function would have to involve the government initiating force against innocent citizens. Such a government acts not as man's protector, but as a criminal.

So does the state have a legislative function or not? Where do we get objective law? I know Objectivists like the constitution, and that's legislation. The common law, maybe? But how are judges nominated and appointed? It would be helpful in assessing the Objectivist political philosophy if they would say something about legislatures and their view of the conditions under which legislative powers are justified. Is there any discussion of this in the O'ist literature, or oral tradition?

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

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