When is it OK to break the law to serve a higher good?  It really matters based on each individual situation.  In the most extreme cases like killing in self defense, the exception is already written into the law.

This is more about the unwritten OK to break the law.

We seem to have stories from time to time of a guy driving his in-labor wife to the hospital and may have been speeding and the cop who notices it will escort them to the hospital or will sometimes ticket the individual which then leads to the predictable outcome of a news story followed by public outrage and the ticket is then dismissed.  Generally.

Speeding for a medical reason is generally accepted as an acceptable choice.  We have speed limits but if you really need to be somewhere to save a life or to preserve health then it is OK.

What if the crime you are committing is more serious?  Something like revealing classified documents about an ongoing war?

The person responsible for the release of confidential information is generally guilty of a serious crime and would face years in prison.  If the release is to demonstrate serious criminal activity that should be known but is only hidden due to claims of national security, then it is acceptable.

Just last month Wikileaks released around 90,000 pages of documents related to the War in Afghanistan.  The documents held and released by Wikileaks make no allegations of war crimes, genocide, or other serious criminal activity, yet.

These documents probably should not have been released.  It is routine rough and tumble war action so far.

The Pentagon Papers from the Vietnam War are a different matter.  There was a long term study and report prepared about the involvement of the United States in Vietnam.  The report was released to the New York Times in the early 1970’s.  The report showed that President Lyndon B. Johnson was lying about our involvement and the goings on in the war.  Official misconduct of the highest Government official is a good enough reason to reveal some state secrets.

What about revealing information for lesser crimes or misconduct?

In Utah a list of 1,300 people alleged to be living here illegally was released to the press.  The information used to compile the list was based on information protected by state law and confidentiality rules.

Immigration status is not serious misconduct sufficient to justify revealing protected information.  Illegal immigration is not a criminal act, but a violation of civil rules and results in deportation instead of jail time.  It is not a big deal and whomever was responsible for making and releasing the list was wrong to do it.

Governor Herbert has received a lot of criticism for his decision to find the responsible employees and fire them.  The critics see the employees as being great patriots helping to defend the country against the influx of illegal aliens.  Wrong.

We need to uphold and change the laws.  The immigration system is clearly broken and our border security is more of a joke than anything.  Making lists of protected information to hassle people who are otherwise living here peacefully is not the right way to handle the problem.

Comments Welcome