Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What kind of citizens?

 

 

Thank you, Kevin, for your important posting on the North Carolina bishops’ request for assistance concerning the campaign to arrest the insertion into high school civics and economics textbooks that the Roe decision is one illustration of how the Supreme Court has upheld rights against “oppressive government.” I realize that this is the bishops’ phrase, but I must also point out an important question that their solicitation for assistance raises: what kind of citizens do the authors of the amendment to the textbooks think they will be educating? Another question follows: must government regulation of all citizens’ conduct be viewed as “oppressive”? Might government conduct be designed in some cases to preserve the common good by ensuring that the liberty of its citizens is ordered?

I shall offer a response to the latter questions first. If a government, state or Federal, makes it a crime to kill, maim, or injure another, it intrudes into the liberty of the feasor of these acts, but its intrusion is not oppressive. The criminal law and their attending sanctions restrict liberty so that liberty is and remains ordered and does not harm the public, and therefore, the common good. I submit that laws regulating abortion do not constitute oppressive government action. My argument, I suggest, is reinforced by the fact that the “privacy” claim that undergirds Roe has since been abandoned by abortion advocates and courts and has been substituted with alternative claims such as “equality.” Do the textbook revisers understand this? Moreover, are they willing to concede the fact that the house-of-cards foundation upon which Roe is built has already collapsed? This would be important to the education of the students who will be reading these textbooks.

This brings me to the first question I have posed: what kind of citizens do the authors want to educate? The young men and boys reading the text will be further encouraged into irresponsible acts when temptation comes their way knowing, falsely, that the “oppressive government” cannot tell them would to do in the physical expressions of their sexuality. And, young women and girls will not necessarily be informed that their protection from “oppressive government” gives them a license to destroy another human. Furthermore, if both of these constituencies of students are led to believe that there exists an unqualified “right to abortion” and protection from “oppressive government,” and all of them exercise this “right,” will there be any future citizens in North Carolina attending schools in thirty years? In fifty years? In a hundred years? And, if there will be no future citizens in these schools, who will read these textbooks then?

 

RJA sj

 

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