On the Devaluation of Rights

On the Devaluation of Rights

Justice William Brennan’s retirement from the Supreme Court was “exciting news” for Beverly LaHaye, president of Concerned Women for America, an organization boasting a God-given mandate to protect American families from feminists and other “liberal humanists.” Chief among Brennan’s sins,
according to LaHaye, were support for legalized abortion, the First Amendment, and sexual equality.

Still, if a friend to feminism, Brennan was hardly a hero to all feminists; among feminists, his tenacious respect for individual rights is
falling out of favor. Privacy rights, in which the Court has grounded women’s abortion rights, are anathema to those feminists who want to dismantle traditional divisions between the public and private spheres because they effectively condone family violence. (The preferred feminist argument for abortion rights is based on the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection.) To some feminists, privacy rights, like First Amendment rights that shield pornographers, are mere instruments of
patriarchy: they are said to reflect a masculine obsession with property and the individual accumulation of power.

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Lima