Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies

TITLE:  Law in the Future

AUTHOR:  Carl Dearden, Morgan High, UT

GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:  11-12; law, government

  1.  Students will be able to identify the problems
      associated with applying the U.S. laws and history to
      an international situation.
  2.  Students will draw on legal concepts from law and
      events in American History to design a legal system
      for a hypothetical "moon colony."

RESOURCES/MATERIALS:  Adapted by Bob Crane from "Law in
American History" by James G. Lengel, Dr. Gerald A. Danzer,
1983, Scott, Foresman, publishers; five handouts following

  1.  This is a culminating activity for the end of the
  2.  Have students read the introduction (handout 1).
  3.  Pass out six case (handout 2).
  4.  Ask students to write the legal arguments that could
      be made by opposing sides in each of these cases.
  5.  An answer sheet (handout 3) is provided.  Discuss.
  6.  Go back over each case and discuss the U.S. historical
      event or law that has similarities to the moon case.
  7.  An answer sheet is provide (handout 4).  You may want
      to broaden this further.
  8.  Draft a model "Legal System for the Moon" using the
      guidelines on handout 5.
  9.  This may be done individually or in groups of three to
      four.  Grading suggestions:  creativity, historical
      and legal knowledge, writing skills, and synthesis

  In drafting, students should keep in mind these questions
and ideas:
  a.  Who has the legal authority to regulate life on the
  b.  What is the source of that authority?
  c.  As of this date, the U.N. has not established a moon
      authority.  All earthbound governments may claim
      authority to regulate lives and property of their own
      citizens on the moon.  It is unwritten law that no one
      country can claim the moon, but that has never been
      documented.  What do you suggest?  What potential
      problems do you see?

HANDOUT 1                       INTRODUCTION - MOON 2001

  The year is 2001.  It has been at least thirty years since
the United States' astronauts first walked on the moon.
During that time, scientists have discovered that the moon
is a productive, interesting place and, in some cases, the
best place to do certain kinds of research and
manufacturing.  After all, the moon is free from air,
gravity, pollution, and does not have the radio interference
that we have on Earth.  Currently on the moon, scientists
are measuring the Earth's weather patterns, listening for
radio signals from far galaxies, and producing drugs in a
sterile environment.  All of this is being accomplished in
laboratories built on the moon.

  Many thousands of people inhabit the moon and work in its
labs and factories.  They even live on the lunar surface.
They come from all over the Earth and many have been on th
moon for at least ten years., while others have been there
only a short time.  These people consist of scientists and
their families, maintenance people, technicians, and

  The moon colony has been administered by NASA (which
stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an
agency of the U.S. government).  NASA has made the rules,
made living and working assignments for people, and arranged
for the space shuttle to transport equipment and people back
and forth between the Earth and the moon.  Most of the
laboratories and equipment are owned by NASA, except for a
few which are owned by private companies in Germany, Japan,
Czechoslovakia, and the United States. Everything has run
fairly smoothly until the year 2001.  Now the problems

HANDOUT 2                MOON MADNESS

  Six recent cases have caused severe problems for the moon

1.   One of the American chemical companies claims that it
     does not have to pay certain taxes on products made on
     the moon.  American tax laws, the company maintains,
     cover only profits made in the United States or in
     foreign countries.  Since the moon is neither, no tax
     is due.
2.   An employee at one of the labs feels that the
     assignment of housing space is unfair, and she wishes
     to speak out against it.  She claims a constitutional
     right to freedom of speech and demands that she be
     allowed to use the intra-colony television
     communication system to make her protest known to
     fellow moon residents.
3.   A group from the Soviet Union demands that it be given
     laboratory space and transportation so that it can
     perform some top-secret experiments.  The Soviets claim
     this right under a 1967 United Nations treaty that
     declared the moon to be the common heritage of mankind.
4.   A Czechoslovakian scientist who was caught stealing
     some anti-cancer drugs is imprisoned by his superiors.
     He demands that the NASA administrator grant him a jury
     trial on the moon "in the American style."  He claims
     that he will not get a fair trial if he is sent back to
5.   The group demands that thirty-five percent of the
     profits from the moon production be put into a fund
     which the developing nations can use for their own
     scientific work.
6.   Some fifty longtime moon colonists have been meeting
     regularly over the past few years.  They have drawn up
     a constitution and a set of laws for a moon government
     based on democratic principles.  They feel that the
     time has come for NASA to give up its control of the
     colony and turn the moon over to the colonists.

    Each of these six cases raised interesting legal
questions that are not easily answered.  Let us look at each
one, examining it from a legal point of view.

1.   If the U.S. government were to insist that American tax
     laws apply on the moon, then it might be exercising
     sovereignty over the moon.  The chemical company knows
     that this claim of sovereignty would not stand up in
     court.  If fact, if the United States were to claim
     legal authority over the moon, then other countries, as
     well as the United Nations, would probably object.  If
     the moon were claimed as part of the United States,
     then its inhabitants might be guaranteed constitutional

2.   The lab employee is assuming that the same legal rights
     which apply in the United States also apply on the
     moon.  Would this be true?  Back in 1903, the U.S.
     Supreme Court held that all constitutional rights did
     not follow the flag when the United States was
     administering the Philippine Islands.  But in the
     1960's, the Court tended to extend these right to all
     citizens in all places.  Now, on the moon, where there
     are no street corners for this protester to set up her
     soapbox (and where there is not air to carry the sound
     of her voice anyway), how can she exercise her right to
     freedom of speech?  Must NASA allow her to use its
     communication system?  And if this person is granted
     constitutional rights, will that set a precedent?  Will
     other moon residents expect NASA to grant them all the
     rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship?

3.   The Soviet claim is based on solid ground.  The U.N.
     resolution of 1967 did declare that the moon belongs to
     all of mankind and is not subject to any one nation's
     authority.  If NASA refuses the Soviet request, it will
     look as if the United States is controlling the moon's
     real estate in violation of U.N. policy.  On the other
     hand, during the 1980's and 1990's, the Soviets refused
     to cooperate with the United States in financing the
     moon colony.  To grant their request now would allow
     them to reap the benefits of the American investment
     without having taken any of the risk.  It is not clear
     what rules apply here - the U.n. resolution, American
     law, or common business sense.

4.   The Czechoslovakian scientist has committed an act that
     would be considered a crime if it were done in any of
     the countries on Earth.  But it is not clear who should
     handle crimes on the moon, or how they should be
     handled.  If the U.S. Constitution does apply on the
     moon, then the Czechoslovakian has the full right of
     due process, just as he would if he were a foreigner on
     American soil.  Granting this man a trial on the moon
     would no doubt anger the Czechoslovakian government,
     especially since the punishment for this crime is much
     harsher in that country that it is in the United
     States.  Again, treatment of this criminal act under
     American law would make it look as if the United States
     were claiming sovereignty over the moon.

5.   Since the moon is a common resource, then all the
     nations of the world should have a right to its
     products.  The thirty-five percent tax would be a
     simple way to guarantee this sharing.  But there is no
     agreement, treaty, or international regime governing
     the moon.  Therefore, neither the private companies not
     the U.S. government is legally bound to share its
     profits from the moon operation.  Until a moon treaty
     is signed, the United States feels that it has no
     special obligation to the Group or to any other

6.   The moon colonists bring up an interesting point;
     Shouldn't they be allowed to rule themselves?  Aren't
     they the body of politic for the moon?  Or are they?
     The  probably could no exist for long without the
     supplies and transportation provided by NASA and the
     U.S. government.  And most of these moon residents are
     still members of a body politic back home on the Earth.
     They can vote for Earth candidates by absentee ballot,
     so they are still represented in their own countries.
     How are these people like and unlike the American
     colonists in the early 1700's?

                      TO LEGAL ISSUES IN HANDOUT 3

1.   Puerto Rico is not part of the United States and yet
     the country belongs to the United States as the result
     of the Spanish-American War of 1898.  Puerto Ricans
     have some of the same rights as we do, but they do not
     pay federal income taxes.  Does this case apply here?

2.   In the 1960's and 70's students wore arm bands to
     school protesting the War in Vietnam.  One of these
     became an important case:  Tinker vs. Des Moines School
     District.  The students were initially suspended from
     school, but the Court ruled that they individual rights
     had been violated.  Does this case apply?

3.   Is the United Nations a body that can enforce its
     resolutions?  Have they in Korea?  Or in other world

4.   Could we put American Indians on trial for fighting the
     American cavalry during the 1800's when they were
     fighting for their own land and white men were the

5.   When the country of Chile seized the Kennecott Copper
     Mine, did Chile pay Kennecott for it?  Why?  Why not?
     What did the United States or Kennecott do?  Could they
     have done anything?

6.   What about the Pilgrims, the Mayflower Compact, the
     American colonists, and the Declaration of


Preamble:         From what authority do you derive your
                  legal right to rule the moon?  (Compare to
                  Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.)

Article I:        Where is the legal authority?  Who makes
                  the laws?  Who will be elected and how?

Article II:       Who will enforce those laws?  What power
                  will they have?  What is considered a
                  crime on the moon?  What is the
                  punishment?  Where will they be punished?
                  How will the land and the resources be

Article III:      Will there be a judicial system?  Composed
                  of what and whom?

Article IV:       What are the Bill of Rights of the moon?
                  List at least twelve.

Article V:        Who may commercially use the moon?  How?

Article VI:       Will the government of the moon tax its
                  citizens?  How will the moon government
                  pay for its services?  With whose money?
                  Will they print their own?

Article VII:      How will the laws of the moon integrate
                  the laws of the various countries on
                  Earth?  Who decides?


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