In an effort to put pro life issues back onto the radar screens of Massachusetts lawyers, without imposing too much of a burden, PLLDF has instituted this Professors’ Corner. Our hope is that, by disseminating useful pro life legal information in succinct form, we will rekindle public sentiment for a restored pro life majority in our Commonwealth.
Members of the professorial community support this effort. Pro life professors, understanding that legal education should never end, have agreed to periodically provide vignettes which will offer useful pro life information.
PLLDF intends to publish monthly or bi-monthly posts, on its website and facebook page, to help accomplish this continuing legal education objective. By keeping posts short, we hope to promote broad reader participation and provide valuable grist which pro life attorneys can easily discuss.
Please visit our website and facebook page periodically to read Professors’ Corner. After reading each entry, please share and discuss it with a colleague. That’s a good—and simple—way to build pro life unity and knowledge!
On Friday, November 6 the Supreme Courted granted cert. in seven cases about the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. Petitioners include the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Archdiocese of Washington, and my own university, The Catholic University of America. The Court will consider whether the demands made of nonprofit religious employers impose a substantial burden on religious exercise. We believe that they do. Faith is not just something we practice in the pews or teach in the classroom. It informs every aspect of our institutional life. It is not the role of the government to decide for a person or institution what their faith demands of them. As James Madison reminded us in his Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.”
The Catholic University of America
Legal scholars generally agree with Aristotle that the metaphysical “goods” of life, friendship and truth should be preserved in the public sphere. Concurring lawyers and professors of law can facilitate that preservation by affirming truths that we all experience: none of us want to live with the risk of being killed, deceived, disrespected, or despised. When we stop advocating for these fundamental goods – especially on behalf of the vulnerable at the margins of life – we start contributing to the collapse of a just society. Let's start from the beginning, by protecting life: the first good first!
Angela Vidal Martins
Philosophy of Law Professor
UFRGS/Research at Harvard Law School
Last week's decision in King v. Burwell highlights the absurdity of the government's attacks on the Little Sisters of the Poor and other groups that do not want to provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices. The King decision emphasizes the government's broad authority to use its own exchanges to give out health plans and subsidies to anyone it chooses. But the existence of that exchange system--and the breadth of the government's ability to use it to get coverage and subsidies to anyone it wants--also shows how ridiculous it is that the government keeps fighting the Little Sisters in court. Obviously a government that can set up and control its own healthcare system--and can give out insurance policies and subsidies to millions of people--can give out contraceptives without the Little Sisters and their health plan.
Professor Mark Rienzi, The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
Once Roe v. Wade established a constitutional right to abortion, there were subsequent attempts in various states to require the husband (or father) to consent to, or at least to be informed about, the abortion, even if he couldn't veto it. The US Supreme Court invalidated all these regulations, including, most notably in the Casey Case in 1992, a spousal notification requirement that contained an exception for abusive spouses. The abortion decision was to be the mother's sole call. Fathers need not even know.
Professor Dwight Duncan, UMass School of Law
Law students and attorneys are particularly concerned with determining human rights, and defending them. This is as it should be. We are well advised to ponder the words of Dr. Joseph Stanton, patriarch of the pro life movement in Massachusetts, who stated: “Protection of innocent human life in its most fragile and awesome beginning…and at its so often dependent close, is at once the highest privilege and most profound obligation of a caring and humane society.” By embracing this sage advice, the legal community can properly compass attention to a broader understanding of human rights.
Professor Scott FitzGibbon, Boston College Law School