Natural Rights and the Right to Choose
Over the last thirty years the American political class has come to talk itself out of the doctrines of 'natural rights' that formed the main teaching of the American Founders and Abraham Lincoln. With that move, it has removed the ground for its own rights. Ironically, this transition has been made without awareness, with a serene conviction that constitutional rights are being expanded. In the name of 'privacy' and 'autonomy', new claims of liberty have been unfolded, all of them bound up in some way with the notion of sexual freedom. The 'right to choose an abortion' has been the 'right' to shift the political class from doctrines of natural right. This new right overturned the liberal jurisprudence of the New Deal, placing jurisprudence on a different foundation. If there is a right to abortion, it has been detached from the logic of natural rights and stripped of moral substance.
- Online resource
- 05 Jun 2012
- Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
- Cambridge, United Kingdom
'... Mr Arkes provides a bracing account of a grave moral catastrophe and his own efforts to repair it ... Mr Arkes' book ... succeeds brilliantly in tracing the effects of the decision to reject natural rights. He shines at exposing sloppy logic and sophistry.' Wall Street Journal '... with a style that is accessible ... the book should be of interest to anyone concerned with the American labour movement'. Political Studies Review '... he has written a fine scholarly book on the subject which is bound to take the debate ever further ... Arke's account and critique of the behaviour of the American Supreme Court since Roe, is quite brilliant'. The Salisbury Review 'With wit and energy and coruscating intelligence, Hadley Arkes has written the most persuasive argument I have yet read for a return to natural law and the first principles of the American founding.' James Bowman, Resident Scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center 'Hadley Arkes is one of the keenest observers of law and culture in America. I read - no, devour - his writings. Thank God for him.' Charles W. Colson, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Washington, DC
Table of contents
1. Introduction: backing into treason; 2. The drift from natural rights; 3. On the things the founders knew - and how our judges came to forget them; 4. Abortion and the 'modest first step'; 5. Anti-jural jurisprudence; 6. Prudent warning and imprudent reactions: 'judicial usurpation' and the unravelling of rights; 7. Finding home ground: the axioms of the constitution; 8. Epilogue: spring becomes fall becomes spring: a memoir.
About Hadley Arkes
Professor Hadley Arkes is Edward Ney Professor of American Institutions at Amherst, and has published many books on moral philosophy and constitutional law, including Beyond the Constitution (1990). A writer for journals such as The Wall Street Journal and Commentary, he has influenced public policy as an architect of the Defense of Marriage Act and the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.