Monday, October 15, 2007

"Marry Early and Often"

Last week that statement was offered in class as a policy rationale behind the law of Trusts & Estates. I was amused at first blush. One might hear that statement today and think, "That is positively archaic." As a married woman, I think, "Finally, some support for an institution it takes great courage to enter into these days!"

However, once my amusement wore off I started to wonder more about such morality-based policy rationales. They seemed to make perfect sense in the germinal days of American jurisprudence when people for the most part shared the same moral compass. However, in our increasingly "live and let live," morally relativistic society, I wonder whose morals will drive legal policy in the future? Will their morals be ones that I want to influence the laws under which I live? Will people even believe in their own moral compass enough to fight for morality in law? These questions affect our ultimate liberty as a people. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that, "Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith." He did not say faith in Who, but he did say faith. In a culture that is increasingly ambivalent towards morality, it will be left up to those whose faith fuels their moral compass to rise up, exert their influence over the law, and ultimately our liberty.