|Forum topic by GregD||posted 754 days ago||1196 views||0 times favorited||39 replies|
754 days ago
Is it appropriate to criminalize an act – pass a law that makes it illegal – with the sole justification that it is considered by the proponents of the law to be an immoral act?
The US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the following in his dissent to Lawrence v. Texas:
State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding. See ante, at 572 (noting “an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex” (emphasis added)). The impossibility of distinguishing homosexuality from other traditional “morals” offenses is precisely why Bowers rejected the rational-basis challenge.
(p. 590 of the ruling; p. 33 of the pdf available here)
Scalia is stating that it is, in fact, acceptable to enact a law with the specific intent to criminalize an act that is deemed immoral.
I assert that it is not.
The foundation of good governance is captured in spirit by this portion of the US Declaration of Independence
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, ...
In fulfilling its responsibility to secure these rights the government must establish practical and equitable limits so that the rights of one individual or group do not unfairly limit or infringe upon the rights of another individual or group. The government has a legitimate need to define appropriate boundaries between the competing interests of different parties. However, a law that limits the actions of an individual or group that have no significant practical effect on the rights of others is contrary to the fundamental purpose of the government, which is to secure rights for the governed. Its sole effect is to diminish an individual’s rights.
So it is just fine that a religious group promotes – by example and by advertising as it sees fit – its own view of morality. Print, broadcast, and Internet advertisements and programs railing against homosexual acts, fornication, adultery and contraceptives sponsored by the Catholic Church, for example, are not only perfectly acceptable, but in fact protected speech. Want to make disparaging remarks about Allah or the Koran? That’s protected too. But as there are no rights of the Catholic Church or of Muslims being infringed
Let’s keep morality as a personal choice and get it out of our legal systems.
What do you think?
-- Greg D.