Can we, do we, and should we legislate morality is a question that rings in the
ears of many Americans. It seems that there are more factors, conditions and
answers to this frequently asked question than the common person is willing to
consider. Lets attempt to take the best ideas from the top scholars on the
issue. In order to answer the questions presented, one must fully understand the
idea of morality and what it means to legislate it. What is morality? According
to Webster, morality is A doctrine or system of moral conduct: or particular
moral principles or rules of conduct: or conformity to ideals of human
conduct. This definition leaves much to be answered, such as: Who sets up
this system? Is it relative to ones personal preferences? And can morality be
forced on an individual? To further understand morality let us discuss it in
more detail. Is morality relative? What laws would be considered laws of
morality? Can a democratic country consider morality while writing laws? To deal
with the question of relativism we will turn to the writings of Dr. Stephen
Schwarz, who is a medical doctor and a writer for Ohio Life, a non-profit
pro-life organization. While responding to the idea that people should not
impose their morality on others Dr, Schwarz replied, The morality of not
raping, and of not murdering a fellow human being is not my morality or
our morality but morality itself. This implies that there is an
absolute morality, maybe we are not capable of achieving it, but it seems that
the gray area between white and black is not as large as most would hope. Now on
to the next question of: What exactly constitutes morality? We have already
discussed that morality is not relative and at some point becomes absolute. C.S.

Lewis gives an in-depth analyzes of morality in his book Mere Christianity
he talks about morality being the deciding factor between the instinct to help
or the instinct to run. He also discusses the idea that morality is not relative
and brings up the fact that we judge other cultures by how we rate their level
of morality. For instance if morality is relative then no one could have told
the Nazis that they were wrong. So in this way the government has already set
a precedent that morality is not relative, they have chosen to judge other
countries and in doing this they imply that their morality is better. First, let
us try to further our understanding of the issue by reviewing what Eastern
College students and faculty had to say about it. A survey of 50 students and
faculty conducted on campus showed that 52% of those polled thought that
morality could not be affectedly legislated, while 48% said that morality could
be legislated. The make up of this survey was as follows: average age 19.8, 70%
female: 30% male, 72% white: 20% African American: 3% Hispanic: 5% not reported.

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40% of those polled were Republicans while only 16% were Democrats, a huge 36%
of students were undecided on a political affiliation and 8% were independents.

Most of those polled said the thought Congress tried to legislate morality but
failed. The survey showed that on a scale of 1-10 Congress only received a 4.1
when asked to rate the morality of Congress. This would seem to explain why they
thought Congress passed immoral bills. But in fact if one looks at the history
of the Congress and takes into consideration how many bills are passed by them,
very few could be labeled as immoral. In fact what most people see as the
government passing immoral laws is the Supreme Court finding moral laws
unconstitutional. Most people group the three branches of government together
and say that the government is immoral. However, we are focusing only on
Congress and if it is possible to legislate morality. In our democratic
representative government Congress has often been called on to make laws that
can only be seen legislation of morality. The first question at hand is: Can
Congress legislate morality? Most experts in the field of law and politics agree
that it is possible to pass bills to make people moral or at least force them to
act in a moral way. In other words it is possible to legislate morality.

However, one must concede that no one is absolutely moral, that is no one is
always moral. As Dr. Bird, a Eastern College professor with a career in The
Christian Medical Society, said in an interview on this topic of morality I can
make you moral on a individual basis. How No smoking in public places, now I
can not make you abide by that, you can refuse to show up or you can choose you
show up and smoke and pay the penalty. But sooner or later if its a place you
want you be, you want to see the Fliers games yea the occasional oaf will
light up but in general you have high compliance and if someone lights up next
to me I am going to get an usher. So you can choose to take your season tickets
elsewhere or you can comply. So your individual choices are limited and I will
force you to be moral almost, not totally, not absolutely, but it is in your
best behavior to behave morally on some of these issues. Dr. Bird clearly
explains how it is possible to legislate action by setting consequences.

However, he also says absolute morality can not be legislated. Len Munsil is an
attorney and the president of The Center for Arizona Policy. He also claims that
all laws are an attempt to legislate morality. His argument is that laws are by
definition a rule of conduct, while a rule sets a standard or separates right
and wrong, and standards or codes of conduct are referred to as morality. (Munsil)
By this explanation every law is a rule of morality. Moving on, lets answer our
second question. Do we legislate morality? In the past fifty years the
Government has become very cautious when dealing with religion and morality. It
has abused the establishment clause, which says that the Government will not
establish a state church or publicly endorse any church in any way. This clause
has been used to remove prayer from schools; it has led to the removal of The
Ten Commandments from the walls of our courtrooms. Christians have not stood by
and watched their rights stripped away but it seems their hands are tied. Wayne
House discuses this issue in an article he wrote for a political journal. He
said The attempt of religious citizens, particularly the majority religion,
Christianity, to make an impact of the political and legal process has fallen on
hard times in recent years under a theory that the law should reflect no
religious view since this would violate the Establishment Clause. The fact that
this might be an expression of the free exercise of religion carries little
weight, for in the jurisprudence of the court, the Establishment clause, which
is absolute, always trump the free exercise clause which is more narrow as to
conduct, though not belief. The reason the government has taken the stance that
its impossible to legislate morality is simple. It makes their job easier to say
we can not legislate morality rather than to try to legislate it and to deal
with any consequences that might arise from their decision. Because we know that
all laws are a form of morality we know that Congress does legislate some degree
of morality. Now on to our last problem: What happens when the morality thats
legislated is not moral? Should Congress legislate morality? I mentioned the
consequences that might arise from the legislation of morality. These need to be
taken into account before deciding on weather or not we should go out of our way
to develop some kind of moral code through law. We must take into account that
to some extent morality changes, for instance, two hundred years ago it was
acceptable to write a law that said women could not vote and that blacks were
animals. We have a different morality today and now know that our past morality
was wrong. So how do we stop this from happening again? Do our past mistakes
merit removing morality from making future laws. No, as a developing nation we
must learn from these mistakes and continue to grow. We need to use our ability
to make laws to give the people of this country a moral code to live by. The
idea is simple: all legislation is a legislation of some kind of morality. To
what extent is not always easy to determine. However, to say that we can not
legislate morality is just another quick fix phrase to make ourselves feel
better about our declining society. The truth is we can legislate morality but
it is not always effective and sometimes we legislate the wrong morality. The
society must be prepared for these minor setbacks. We must determine who will
develop the moral code of conduct. As it stands now we can not look to the
government for moral support because they feel that they have no role in
morality. So it is now necessary to choose what moral code you want to live by
and use self discipline to follow it.


Philosophy