The Process of Forcing Popular Will on the People

The March issue of First Things was an anniversary issue reprinting various pieces from past iterations, and a 1994 article by Russell Hittinger reconsidering the state of the political battlefield prior to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision sheds some light on the process of progressives implementation of policies with which the American people have their doubts (to put it mildly), first with contraceptives:

Garrow makes it clear that the “reproductive rights” movement won its victories in the federal courts, not in the legislatures. Interestingly, in the first Supreme Court case dealing with contraception, Poe v. Ullman (1961), Justice Felix Frankfurter was so astonished by the conservative legislative history that he asked, at oral argument, whether some “outside authoritarian power” had coerced the Connecticut legislature. Even after the Court struck down the Connecticut statute in1965, other states adamantly retained various kinds of anti-contraceptive statutes. The Supreme Court ripped these out of the states, one by one, until they finally managed to invalidate New York’s law against the sale of contraceptives to minors in 1977. Even in the middle of the sexual revolution, states did not willingly relinquish their authority to exercise moral police powers in this matter.

Then with abortion and euthanasia:

For the historical record, it should be remembered that on the eve of the federally compelled abortion “right” the citizens of Michigan voted overwhelmingly against it; and let the historical record show that twenty-one years later, on the eve of a federally mandated “right” to physician-assisted euthanasia, the citizens of Washington voted it down. The idea that the federal courts have merely facilitated the social and political agenda of the people is a myth. The idea that the issues of abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality are politically unmanageable, and must therefore be reserved for sub-political “cultural” discourse, is a myth. Regrettably, the pundits continue to overlook the most obvious and historically consistent datum: namely, the abrogation of the people’s legislative judgment by federal courts. Before we condemn the people for their moral decline and insensitivity, the judicial violation of the political order must be fully considered.

We’re seeing a repeat of the process with same-sex marriage. The left initiates a forceful push for its policies across the country, and voters mostly reject the ideas. But the extent to which advocates repeat their call (especially given their permeation of media industries) keeps the issue alive, with the frequency of mentions giving judges a false cover of popular support. Their declarations of “inevitability” are only accurate to the extent that we continue to allow them to take away our right to self governance.

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Pragmatist
Pragmatist
11 years ago

While your beloved church continues to hide its bevy of child rapists within its walls, you rant about legislatures legalizing contraceptives.
Fundamentally, your problem is with representative democracy. First, your ire was directed at judges. Now, it’s legislatures. While your criticism of the pillars of our system of government is never-ending, you rarely, if ever, have a critical thought here about the church. And also rarely executive authority of any kind (See Justin’s silence on the topic of presidential authorization of torture, wiretapping Americans, warantless arrest and indefinite detention, etc). And you wonder why I call you a theocrat and a reflexive populist.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

I wasn’t aware that reproductive choice or gay unions were being forced on anyone.
Can you point to the laws or news stories showing us how this is being forced upon individuals who don’t want it?

Tara
Tara
11 years ago

Stuart,
My girlfriend forced me to go to a gay wedding last year. (Her best friend) I try not to go to any weddings, but I caved and went.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Come to think of it, I visited a state park in Ma. once and was “forced” to watch a gay wedding happening in the main house there….
Well, truth be told, they had paid the fee to rent the house – and I was not forced to watch, but the music was nice as was the ceremony, and I personally didn’t know nor care about the partners.
I actually think if Justin had been there he would have thought the same thing. He is a liberal but just having a hard time breaking out of his ideological shell. Too many outside pressures like religion and perceived local fame to deal with…..I guess!
Crying for attention……but is the attention good?

rhody
rhody
11 years ago

I still don’t understand what harm gay marriage does to society. The next reasonable argument I hear against gay marriage will be the first.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

I am not surprised that those who have neither values nor principles, who have such a shallow concept of human nature and health of society, would be happy with trivializing the institution of marriage and the role of traditional families in making a society successful.
To use the favorite yardstick of the Progressives, Darwinism, those societies and cultures that are based on traditional two-parent families have become the most advanced and successful in history (viz. the Western, judaeo-christian and Japanese cultures). Using their own logic (as if logic mattered to self-deluding Leftists), they should support the institution that works best in practice. Isn’t that what Henry James also taught?
The refusal to accept that with adult freedom comes adult responsibility is further evidence of the Leftists’ character defect known as Peter Pan Syndrome.

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