Stumbled across this this morning and it seemed fitting for a lot of things that have been running through my mind with the recent SCOTUS rulings.
In an important sense, law is always up-to-date. The legal system always “works”; it always functions. Every society governs itself and settles disputes. Every society has a working system of law. If the courts, for example, are hide-bound and ineffective, that merely means some other agency has taken over what courts might otherwise do. The system is like a blind, insensate machine. It does the bidding of those whose hands are on the controls. The laws of China, the United States, Saudi Arabia, France, of North and South Korea reflect the goals and policies of those who call the tune in those societies. Often, when we call law “archaic,” we mean that the power system of its system is morally out of tune. But change the power system, and the law too will change.
Despite a strong dash of history and idiosyncrasy, the strongest ingredient in American law, at any given time, is the present–current emotions, real economic interests, and concrete political groups.
From History of American Law by Lawrence Friedman