Not long ago, President Obama nominated Cornelia Pillard, Patricia Millet, and Robert Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. When Obama nominates someone for a court this important, one should always suspect that the nominee is a left-wing ideologue.
But in the case of Pillard, it’s not a question of suspicion. Her writings support the statement by one of her former colleagues to Ed Whelan that Pillard is “Reinhardt in a skirt but less moderate.” The reference is to Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Nine Circuit, who is widely considered the most radical leftist federal appeals court judge in the country. Another long-time acquaintance of Pillard told Whelan that “if confirmed, I’d guess she’d be the most left-wing judge in the history of the Republic.”
I was amazed (though I shouldn’t have been) to learn of Pillard’s pet legal theory — that abstinence-only sex education is unconstitutional. Pillard wants federal judges to require “egalitarian sex education.” What does that mean?
Egalitarian sex education should recognize the realities of sex-based subordination and harm even while it strongly counters sex-based stereotypes and double standards. It should acknowledge and oppose male-on-female aggression and the larger system of gender hierarchy that such aggression exemplifies and sustains. It should also, however, recognize that boys and men, too, are frequently harmed by sexual aggression, and that girls and women can be the moving force behind irresponsible or otherwise harmful sex. And it should always–especially as applied to young people—express hope that old patterns will change.
Not only that,
Egalitarian sex education should communicate relevant ethics and concerns to both sexes. It should affirm the value of sexual pleasure for females as well as males, and the vulnerability of males as well as females to emotional and physical harm. It should alert girls as well as boys that the power of sexual desire can test our rationality and emphasize that we are all nonetheless obligated—and are expected to learn—to exercise self-control. Egalitarian sex education should teach students of both sexes that parenthood imposes enormous responsibilities, which should be shared by both women and men. Evenhanded teaching about abstinence and contraception would stress that those behaviors are the responsibility of both sexes.
One can argue about whether this is what a good sex education program looks like. But the notion that the non-articulation in a sex-ed program of these doctrines, some of which are simply feminist propaganda, raises constitutional concerns is absurd. As Whelan says, “anyone who imagines that federal judges should be applying these standards to decide whether a sex-education curriculum (both on paper and as taught) is constitutionally permissible shouldn’t be trusted with judicial power.”
Pillard is also a pro-abortion extremist. The right to an abortion, she argues, is necessary to help to “free women from historically routine conscription into maternity.” She also contends that men and women who oppose government mandates on employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception “reinforce broader patterns of discrimination against women as a class of presumptive breeders.”
Pillard isn’t a fan of ultrasound. She complains that it produces “deceptive images of fetus-as-autonomous-being that the anti-choice movement has popularized since the advent of amniocentesis.” The notion that ultrasound produces images of autonomous beings is absurd. No one claims that the images are of something that is autonomous. Pillard’s concern is that the images look too much like something people want to protect.
Tomorrow, I will attend the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the Pillard nomination. I’ll have a report up later in the day.