Friday, August 26, 2005

The Right to Privacy

NARAL has a good new ad running against Supreme Court Nominee Roberts based on his contempt for the "so-called" right to privacy. I think they really may be on to something here if they keep the theme going. A lot of people on the right have been sneering about the "so-called" right to privacy because this "illusory" right was the foundation of Roe v. Wade. Potentially I think this may be a huge mistake on their part which could be turned on them rather easily. I think they underestimate how many people like their privacy. There are widespread and well-justified fears of the loss of privacy in all areas of life, fears that cut across all sorts of political lines. It is not just an issue of constitutional interpretation, it is a question of values.

If the democrats weren't so utterly spineless, they might even be able to build a larger constituency around an endorsement of the right to privacy far beyond abortion rights supporters: It has some natural appeal to the rural right/homeskooking crowd, the gun nuts and libertarians as well as to civil libertarians, secularists, gays, people concerned about the rapidly expanding surveillance society etc.. I think the right of privacy might be able to gain the kind of general support that has proved impossible for abortion rights as such to maintain. It also has a ready made and fairly consistent elaboration in Mill's harm principle.

Anyway, it might be a good idea if we actually had an opposition party. Hillary and the rest of the democratic leadership are distancing themselves from abortion rights (and opposition to the war) as much as possible. And supposedly progressive bloggers like Kos have even taken to attacking NARAL for its "single issue" politics, and its single-minded devotion to what he called a "pet cause."

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