How many times have we heard liberal-minded people say, when moral issues are discussed in a political context, “Well, you can’t legislate morality”?
Sounds reasonable at first, doesn’t it? Very democratic, humane, tolerant, all that good stuff? I mean, after all, this is a free country, and people can decide for themselves what they think is right and what is wrong, right? So how can one group force its views on another one, and how should a legislative body have the right to make rules for everybody – and on whose ideas of morality would those rules be based?
All those thoughts have been repeated so often that millions of Americans are buying into them, and wearying of the efforts to preserve traditional morality in this country. And increasingly, citizens who do keep trying to preserve our long-held moral boundaries are vilified as bigoted, prejudiced, homophobic, narrow-minded, out of touch, “wacko,” or worse. Lots worse.
Let’s look at this idea that you can’t legislate morality.
We, through our elected representatives, did declare murder illegal, didn’t we? In spite of the fact that it’s one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible? Is that legislating morality, even religion?
What about stealing? And rape? And pedophilia, sexually abusing little children? Those things are universally considered immoral – and we made laws about them? Who gave whom the right to do that? Hey, NAMBLA, the organization that promotes man-boy sex, feels that men have the right to do anything they want sexually with little boys no older than 8, and who are we to legislate their morality?
I guess even the most liberal, as well the most conservative, among us agree that the institution of slavery was immoral. Did we really have the right to enact a constitutional amendment to prohibit it? And anybody can see that women should have the right to vote, just like men. Why did we have to have a constitutional amendment to ensure that? Who gave our Congress the right to make laws about those moral issues?
If I read my history correctly, it was our Constitution – formed by our Founding Fathers – that decreed that a majority of the citizens, through the representatives elected to do our bidding, were given the right, the duty and responsibility, to make laws that would ensure domestic tranquility, defend our borders, and promote a safe and wholesome environment for us all.
It was also provided in that same Constitution that the laws could be changed or amended – but by the will of the majority, not by each or any minority group that might not like what the majority ruled.
But even as this marvelous, unprecedented system of government was settling in, Thomas Jefferson warned that the judicial branch was the one to fear, because though the legislative branch might make laws, unelected judges might undo them, twist and misinterpret them, and even make judgments that would have the effect of new laws, which they had no constitutional right to make.
Take for example what has occurred here in California. The citizens, by a large majority, voted in 2000 to approve Proposition 22, defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The people spoke, through our democratic process. But then, four out of seven of our Supreme Court defied the people and declared that homosexual same-sex couples could marry – which thousands did. In 2008, the people voted once more and, by a 52 percent majority, again declared their insistence that marriage be retained as a union of one man and one woman – this time through a constitutional amendment. It was clear and decisive, and the people had spoken.
Yet the battle rages on, with Prop 8 opponents vowing to overturn the will of the people (expressed twice) and even prevailing on a federal judge to rule that the public has a right to know who is giving money to state ballot measures such as Prop 8! And to what purpose, do you suppose? The planned disclosure will give the angry opponents – the same ones who spent $40 million against the measure, compared to the $30 million spent to promote it – the information they need to persecute those citizens who had the effrontery, the gall, to donate to a measure that expressed their moral convictions!
But wait! Has anybody noticed that these California judges were legislating morality? Their version of “morality”? Right over the will of the people, these self-righteous judges made rulings that defied the voters’ judgments and imposed their will on all the people of the state! This is what Jefferson was warning us about – that unelected judges would disregard the will of the people and the Constitution itself … and legislate their version of morality.
Marriage, after all, is a moral and religious institution. The homosexual activists aren’t satisfied with civil unions; they want the privileges, the appearance of sanctity and the public approval accorded to traditional marriage. Not able to obtain that through the democratic process, they are determined to find and convince judges who will – you guessed it – legislate morality.
And this is just one issue. There are so many more where the same things are happening.
The majority of Americans still abhor abortion, and time after time they have expressed their will that unplanned babies be allowed to live. It’s a moral issue if there ever were one. It’s the issue of life itself. But judges, from the Supreme Court on down, have legislated their idea of morality, appealing to some invisible “right to privacy” provision in the Constitution. If women have a “right to privacy,” don’t little babies have a “right to live”? The judges have legislated against the latter right.
John Adams, a principal crafter and architect of our hallowed Constitution, and later our second president, declared, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
This being true, any and all just laws must be based on moral considerations. If this republic is to endure, our elected representatives are ever bound to legislate morality. To fail that responsibility is to ensure we will be ruled by immorality.