01 December 2007

law and morality

there was a brief discussion in my law & governance class the other night regarding what is the best forum to decide upon issues of morality and social values. the discussion stemmed from the point that if these are not issues of human rights, should a group of judges--who some would say are not representative of society--be deliberating on them?

these are obviously difficult questions, with no easy answers. my take however, is that there is a firm link between law and morality; law does in fact stem from principles and values of social concern. this being the case, it is a little unfair to say that the judiciary is not in a position to make such judgments. not only unfair, it seems a tad bit contradictory; why do you have judges whom you do NOT trust to make such difficult decisions? secondly, one of the advantages of plugging in to common law jurisdictions around the world and international law principles, is surely that all courts are required to keep changing societal values in mind.

i am not suggesting that the courts are the answer to all of society's problems or that all judges are in a position to decide upon matters of morality. i am merely illustrating the other side; hk's social values ARE part of its legal framework, together with its international obligations. the time when ONLY social values (and, mind you, this still refers to the values held by the majority) were important however, has long gone.

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