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  •  The Enforceability Of Contracts With.... (13+ / 0-)

    The Kingdom of Heaven and the Dominion of Hell?

    A fun blog for legal types is Law and the Multiverse where some atypical legal issues are discussed and seriously applied to existing law & principles. Their latest discussion deals with contract law, specifically the enforceability of a contract with either God or the Devil. Now of course all of this proceeds from the assumptions that God, the Devil, and souls exist. If you start from there, the situation can get into Daniel Webster level tricky.

    • Would selling/trading in souls fall under indentured servitude & slavery, and thus be banned by the 13th Amendment within areas controlled by the United States?
    • However, since most contracts with the Devil have Hell taking possession of the soul at death, and since dead people don't technically fall under the definition of "persons" under the law, the 13th Amendment might not apply.
    • One thing never expounded on in stories where people make deals with the Devil, which court are you supposed to go to with that contract if the Devil doesn't live up to his end of the bargain?
    • If God and the Devil exist, would they be considered foreign heads of state, where any contract could have a “choice of law clause" which directed that Heaven or Hell has jurisdiction instead of the United States courts? Or since both entities & their associates may be omnipresent & existed within the United States at the time of the nation's founding & continue to exist in the United States, would a contract between them and a human be one between "Americans" on American soil with United States jurisdiction applying?
    • In United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D.Pa. 1971), a man attempted to sue the Devil in Federal court. Gerald Mayo claimed that the Devil was responsible for denying him his constitutional rights. The U.S. District Court Judge dismissed the case on the grounds that "the plaintiff had not included instructions for how the U.S. Marshal could serve process on Satan."
    A deal probably wouldn’t even fail under the unfavorable adhesion contract analysis. The idea here is that in modern society, consumers very often sign contracts with large, powerful entities, where there is no opportunity for meaningful negotiation and manifestly unequal bargaining power. In such instances, terms which the reasonable person would not expect to be in the contract are unenforceable. This analysis is more rigorous in Europe, as American courts favor an objective rather than a subjective analysis, i.e., the term in question must be such that no reasonable person would consent to it if they knew about it, and no reasonable person would suspect it to be present in the contract. Courts also disfavor terms which are out of proportion to the value of the subject of the contract.

    Here, the analysis seems to run pretty strongly in favor of the Lord. True, there is no opportunity to negotiate, and to call the parties’ bargaining power “unequal” doesn’t really begin to describe it. But there doesn’t seem to be anything in the contract which isn’t logically related to the main deal. And the balance of values favors Cruz, not God: God is demanding a century of service under fairly onerous terms. In exchange, he’s offering eternal salvation. Doesn’t seem so bad when you put it that way...

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