In this essay published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Steven Calabresi, the George C. Dix Professor of Constitutional Law, Northwestern University School of Law, comments on Judge Robert Bork’s thought-provoking book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, specifically focusing on governmental efforts to enforce morality. Calabresi argues that there is a place in the government for legislating morality.
“This Essay explores that topic by seeking to shed additional light on two fundamental questions raised by Judge Bork’s book. First, what is the proper relationship between law, religion, and morality? Second, is it appropriate for the government to punish adult consensual conduct that does not directly harm other individuals, such as drug dealing and possession, prostitution, suicide, and for that matter professional boxing or dueling? I will address these two topics in turn.”
A short excerpt and then a link:
Legalizing drugs, prostitution, and assisted suicide could and probably would produce an explosion of such self-destructive behavior. After legalization, the government could itself encourage immoral behavior: (1) by selling drugs in state-owned, for-profit stores (the way some states continue to sell alcohol), (2) by running state-owned brothels to raise tax revenue, or (3) by encouraging elderly Medicare patients to consider assisted suicide to keep welfare costs down. Like it or not, the law teaches moral lessons, and people, especially in America, are quite prone to believe that what is legal is also moral.
Read the full essay (in PDF format) at http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol31_No2_Calabresionline.pdf
Thanks to Howard Friedman for posting a link to this piece on his blog at http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2008/06/recently-available-scholarly-article-of.html