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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Yale Law School's "wishlist"

Looking through the Summer issue of the Yale Law Report -- and feeling, as I always do when I read the report, slow-moving and uninteresting -- I came across this "Wish List for the New Administration."  Heather Gerken suggests a "democracy index", or "ranking index for state election administration practices (For more about Heather's proposal, click here.); Michael Graetz urges the adoption of a value-added tax, which would generate the revenue necessary to fund a sweeping income-tax exemption; Bill Eskridge suggests a number of measures designed to better protect LGBT Americans from discrimination and violence.  And so on.

Two of the wish-list items -- Peter Schuck's and Jack Balkin & Reva Siegel's -- caught my attention. 

Balkin and Siegel hope for a "choice-respecting family policy" that "respect[s] women's choices as much as men's".  Fair enough.  One aim of such a policy, they believe, would be to "secure women's right to an abortion free from government pressure designed to coerce, manipulate, intimidate, or shame women into continuing a pregnancy they wish to end." 

First:  Maybe because I had just read Jack's blog-post calling for more "conversation" among people who disagree about abortion, I wondered, "but what if it is the case -- and many, perhaps most, people believe it is the case -- that elective abortions are morally wrong?  If this is the case, then is there any reason why government -- even in a regime with constitutionalized abortion rights -- that should not construct policy that aims to dissuade women (and men) from abortion?"  Second, Balkin and Siegel say that "[m]ost public support for women who give birth ends with birth[.]"  I'm not sure what they are getting at.  Could it possibly really be the case that women with children are eligible for fewer public-program funds than are women who are pregnant?  Third, Balkin and Siegel express regret that, at present, governments are "encourag[ing] pharmacists to deny services on religious grounds[.]"  But why should we regard legislation that would exempt conscientious objectors from certain mandates regarding the provision of abortifacients as "encourag[ing]" pharmacists to act in accord with their consciences?

The other item that jumped out at me -- and that I heartily endorse! -- was Peter Schuck's.  Here's a bit:

We cannot close [the education] gap [between rich and poor] until disadvantaged parents have the power, not just the right, to send their children to schools other than the low-performing ones to which they are now consigned.

. . . The well-documented success of the Catholic schools in educating the same kinds of low-income children . . . whom public schools have manifestly failed to reach is a strong indictment of the public system.

Every careful study of choice shows some benefits and no significant harm, with per pupil expenditures that are nearly half those in the public schools.  For people who enjoy choice to argue that low-income children must be denied choice in order to “save” those schools is not simply wrong as an empirical matter . . ., and as a historical matter . . . , It is also morally perverse, preferring the putative welfare of the school system to that of the children it is meant to serve.

I agree.

Posted by Rick Garnett on August 8, 2007 at 03:57 PM in Law and Politics | Permalink

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