I readily concur with and join my Friend Kevin Browne in his letter to the editor (Barbados Nation, November 30, 2021) concerning law/morality in society.
Just recently (October25, 2021), Professor Stephen Vasciannie (UWI, Mona) invited me and 2 lawyers as guest presenters in his class and a slice of our presentation related to Religion and law in society.
Below is my presentation:-
For our purposes I am treating religion, minimally as an orientation/outlook that recognizes a ‘higher power’ or God to whom humans are accountable re behaviour. Dismiss even this minimal approach and humans in community become the final arbiters of both morality and justice. I’ll mention the lament of Law Professor Arthur Leff in this regard, shortly.
A few quotes on law to ponder:
1. “Positive laws in any society enshrine or at least reflect somewhat that society’s ethico-moral outlook or highest aspirations. Statutes are ipso facto moral censors.” [So we not only legislate morality we attempt to enforce it as well] That’s from my former Jamaica Theological Seminary classmate, batch of 1978, Albert Morris. in personal correspondence.
2. “…since all law necessarily reflects a moral value system of some kind, there is every reason to have it reflect the proper…value system.” (Prof. John Warwick Montgomery, in his book Human Rights & Human Dignity)
3. “I find it has been the opinion of the wisest men that Law is not a product of human thought, nor is it any enactment of peoples, but something eternal which rules the whole universe by its wisdom in command and prohibition. Thus they have been accustomed to say that Law is the primal and ultimate mind of God.” (Roman Stoic lawyer Cicero (106-43 BC), De legibus, bk. 2, chap. 4)
4. “The problem of establishing sound ethical standards in the legal profession and the wider problem of which this is but one aspect—that of finding ethical norms for the evaluation of positive law in general—becomes immensely more acute when we see total societies operating with legal and ethical values directly opposed to our own.” (Prof. J.W. Montgomery)
5. “I want to believe—and so do you—in a complete, transcendent and immanent set of propositions about right and wrong, findable rules that authoritatively and unambiguously direct us how to live righteously. I also want to believe—and so do you—in no such thing, but rather that we are wholly free, not only to choose for ourselves what we ought to do, but to decide for ourselves, individually and as a species, what we ought to be. What we want, Heaven help us, is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free, that is, at the same time to discover the right and the good and to create it.” (“Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law”Duke Law Journal 6 (December, 1979)