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Chicago teachers’ $50B demands include pay hikes, abortions, migrant accommodation

Michael Dorgan:

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is negotiating a new contract with the public schools system and is understood to be calling for an extra $50 billion to pay for wage hikes as well as other demands such as fully paid abortions for its members, new migrant services and facilities and a host of LGBT-related requirements and training in schools. 

To put the figure into context, the total base tax receipts for the state of Illinois last year were $50.7 billion.

The incredible demands are being made despite its members delivering underwhelming results for its students, with only 21 percent of the city’s eighth graders being proficient readers, according to the last Nation’s Report Card, which provides national results about students’ performance.

Civics: The First Amendment, Lawfare and abortion protests

Lisa Carr:

Eva Edl, Eva Zastrow, James Zastrow, and Paul Place had charges brought against them for being part of a peaceful protest on March 5, 2021. They gathered on the second floor of an office building in the hallway outside the Carafem Health Center Clinic. The group prayed, sang hymns, and urged women showing up to the clinic to not get abortions. 

It seems as though Edl, the Zastrows and Place violated the FACE Act (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) of 1994. They face up to a year in prison and thousands of dollars of fines. Their sentencing is on July 30, 2024.

Abortion, life and politics

Harm Venhuizen

“I continue to believe that having ‘we the people’ decide the profound moral issue of abortion is the only way to find a reasonable consensus that most people will accept,” Johnson said in a statement Wednesday. “One of the benefits of a one-time, single-issue referendum would be the education and discussion that would occur leading up to it. Unfortunately, with an active court case and resistance in the Legislature, a referendum in 2024 is highly unlikely.”

Choose life. Notes and links on abortion,

Notes on abortion and human rights

Jim Nelles:

Interestingly, Ginsburg had spoken about the case she wished had been heard by the Supreme Court, Struck v. Secretary of Defense. Ginsburg represented Captain Susan Struck, who became pregnant while serving in the Air Force in Viet Nam. The Air Force told her to either terminate the pregnancy or leave the Air Force. Struck wanted to keep the baby and her job. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, but the Air Force backed down, allowing Struck to keep her job and her baby. Said Ginsburg, “I wish that would’ve been the first case. I think the Court would’ve better understood that this is about women’s choice.”  Few, if any pro-choice recognize that their champion wanted to try the case of a woman who desired to keep her baby, not terminate a pregnancy, as the way to grow women’s rights.

It is estimated that more than 63 million babies have been aborted between when Roe became law in 1973 and May 2022. That is 63 million lives lost. Who was never born? What great statesman, scientist, religious leader, or mother, never had the chance to live up to his or her potential? Never had the chance to realize a dream. How many women have gone to sleep each night wondering what would have been, if only they had made a different decision.

I never thought too much about abortion while growing up. My family wasn’t overly religious nor were we activists for one side or the other, we were simply Americans living our lives. People debated the issue when I was in college, mostly taking the pro-choice side, given the liberal leanings of Northwestern University. Again, I listened, but didn’t really participate. It didn’t impact me, and I didn’t care enough to care.

Fast-forward to the day I learned that my wife was pregnant with our son. I had just come home from a concert with friends and found a positive home pregnancy test on the bathroom vanity. I had never been so happy! As the pregnancy progressed, the doctor asked if we wanted to have an amniocentesis, the amnio test, performed to make sure the baby was “normal.” My wife and I had discussed this prior to her pregnancy and had decided that we would perform the test and terminate the pregnancy if any abnormalities were detected. But something strange happened that Wednesday morning in late 2000. We both immediately replied “no.” That was the day I affirmed my pro-life position.

Pro life vs Pro Abortion Speech

Emily Fowler:

With the anniversary of the overturn of Roe v. Wade just around the corner, Campus Reform reached out to student leaders of pro-life organizations across the country to see what the campus climate has been like since the landmark Dobbs decision was handed down. 

Three out of five students Campus Reform interviewed stated that they have experienced more vandalism and backlash since Roe was overturned on June 24 of last year.  

Campus Reform Interviewed student leaders from Penn State University, the College of William and Mary in Virginia, Kennesaw State University in Georgia, North Carolina’s Campbell University, and Rider University in New Jersey.

Campus Reform first asked interviewees to reflect on what their overall experience has been like this past year with any backlash, vandalism, or related incidents on their campus.

Kale Ogunbor, Vice President of Penn State Students for Life and Campus Reform correspondent, replied that her group has “experienced vandalism and backlash quite a few times, especially during the fall semester, after the reversal of Roe.”

“Early in the fall semester our chapter decided to host a ‘Cemetery for the Innocents’ exhibit,” Ogunbor related. “Hundreds of blue and pink flags were placed on our campus lawn representing the victims of abortion in the United States … Students from the [Penn State Planned Parenthood] club mocked and verbally denigrated us, and sat on and in between the flags that each represented 2000 boys and girls that had been aborted every year leading up to the reversal of Roe.”

Considering all abortion costs

Ross Douthat

“You can’t insist that the immediate economic benefits of ending a pregnancy should be counted in Roe v. Wade’s favor, but any of the larger negative shifts in mating and marriage…””… and child rearing associated with abortion can’t be considered as part of the debate…. [Consider a] world clearly shadowed by the effects of family breakdown and social atomization, with loneliness and despair stalking young and old alike… population aging, population decline, childless cities and empty hinterlands and a vast inverted demographic pyramid on the shoulders of the young…. [And look at] the most influential voices in our aging, unhappy, stagnation-shadowed society — the most educated and impassioned and articulate, the most self-consciously devoted to the idea of progress — committing and recommitting themselves to the view that nothing is so important as to continue ensuring that hundreds of thousands of unborn lives can be ended in utero every year…. … I beseech you to consider that you are making a mistake.”

Choose life.


Being adopted has shaped their views on abortion — in different ways

Olivia McCormack

Ryan Bomberger comes from a family of 15. He was adopted out of the foster-care system — along with 9 of his 12 siblings. Bomberger is staunchly antiabortion, in part because of the circumstances around his own conception, he said.

“I am 100 percent antiabortion, 100 percent pro-life,” said Bomberger, a 51-year-old living in Virginia. “Being rescued from the violence of abortion … is what compels me to actually be as pro-life as I am.”

Bomberger said his adoptive parents were told by the adoption agency that he was a product of rape, a point that has been an integral aspect of his advocacy, he said: In 2009, he co-founded the Radiance Foundation, a faith-based antiabortion nonprofit organization.

“All the things I’ve been able to become in my life are the result of that singular decision,” Bomberger said.

Bomberger is now a father of four children, two of whom are adopted. Adoption, according to him, is not all “sunshine and rainbows.” But he does believe that it is one of two alternatives to abortion.

“Either you can choose to parent or you can make a powerful parenting decision and say ‘I’m not ready or prepared or able to take care of this child but another family can,’ ” he said.

Notes and links on abortion, choose life.

UNC Chapel Hill Student Gov’t Cuts Off Funding & Contracting to Anyone Who “Advocates” for Limits on Abortion

Eugene Volokh:

The student government president’s executive orderprovides, among other things,

That it shall be prohibited for the Undergraduate Student Government Executive Branch to contract or expend funds to any individual, business, or organization which actively advocates to further limit by law access to reproductive healthcare, including, though not limited to, contraception and induced abortions.

This seems to me a clear violation of the First Amendment:

  1. Under Board of Regents v. Southworth (2000), public university student government are generally subject to the same First Amendment limits imposed on public entities more generally.
  2. When it comes to generally available student group funding, Southworth and Rosenberger v. Rector (1995) make clear that the government can’t discriminate based on the student group’s viewpoint.
  3. And when it comes to contracting, Board of Comm’rs v. Umbehr (1996) holds that the government generally can’t discriminate based on contractors’ ideological expression, either.

Of course the same would be true of a public university’s cutting off generally available student funding or contracting to “individual[s], business[es], or organization[s]” that express pro-abortion-rights views or pro-Israel views or anti-Israel views or what have you. The Free Speech Clause generally doesn’t stop government actors from conditioning funding on groups’ nonspeech conduct, such as on the groups not refusing to do business with Israel or not excluding military recruiters (Rumsfeld v. FAIR (2006)) or providing funding for abortions or contraception for their employees. But the government may not condition funding on groups’ refraining from expressing anti-Israel, anti-military, or anti-abortion views.

Abortion, Adoption and Parenthood

Janice Goldwater:

In a 2016 analysis as part of the five-year Turnaway Study… UCSF researchers… found that one week after being denied an abortion due to a late-term pregnancy just 14 percent of 171 study participants reported plans to place the baby for adoption or considered it as an option. Only nine percent of those who went on to give birth – 15 women — actually placed their newborns for adoption…. 

In interviews with researchers, Turnaway participants gave several reasons for deciding to parent, including finding relatives were more willing to help than they anticipated and the bond they felt with their infants after birth. Lastly, they said they would feel guilty if they chose adoption “either because they believed adoption was an abjuration of responsibility, or because they believed it meant they’d have no ongoing knowledge of their child,” the report summarized. 

Those who chose adoption expressed strong satisfaction with their decisions, but follow-up interviews “revealed mixed emotions,” the report said. The 2016 analysis concluded: “Political promotion of adoption as an alternative to abortion is likely not grounded in the reality of women’s decision making.”…

Choose life.


Should State Universities Have Official Positions on Whether Constitution Should Be Read as Protecting Abortion?

Eugene Volokh:

I don’t think that a public university’s “mission and values” should be to promote a reading of the Constitution as securing abortion rights, or as not securing abortion rights, as opposed to promoting research on this and related questions. And while of course a public university that runs hospitals should generally perform legal medical procedures, and train doctor with regard to legal medical procedures, I don’t think that justifies the university taking a stand on whether such legality is determined by state legislatures or by Supreme Court Justices.

That’s especially so when, as the UCLA Chancellor’s follow-up letter points out, “The decision is not expected to affect women’s reproductive rights in California,” so UC doesn’t even have much of a direct interest in the outcome of Dobbs as it affects its own operations. (There may be more room for statements by a public university president as to political decisions that do directly affect the operations of the university, such as changes in funding, statutes related to student admissions, and the like.)

More broadly, I tend to agree with the 1970 statement by the Office of the UC President:

There are both educational and legal reasons why the University must remain politically neutral. Educationally, the pursuit of truth and knowledge is only possible in an atmosphere of freedom, and if the University were to surrender its neutrality, it would jeopardize its freedom. Legally, Article IX, section 9, of the State Constitution provides in part that “The University shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its regents and in the administration of its affairs…”

Civics: Andrew Yang abortion commentary on political rhetoric vs actions

Ann Althouse

A key I use to understanding puzzles like this is: People do what they want to do. What have they done? Begin with the hypothesis that what they did is what they wanted to do. If they postured that they wanted to do something else, regard that as a con. Work from there. The world will make much more sense.

2013: Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lead a vote to eliminate the filibuster for Judicial nominees in 2013.

Roll Call:

The Senate voted, 52-48, to effectively change the rules by rejecting the opinion of the presiding officer that a supermajority is required to limit debate, or invoke cloture, on executive branch nominees and those for seats on federal courts short of the Supreme Court.

Three Democrats — Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas — voted to keep the rules unchanged.

The move came after Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., raised a point of order that only a majority of senators were required to break filibusters of such nominees. Presiding over the Senate as president pro tem, Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont issued a ruling in line with past precedent, saying that 60 votes were required. Leahy personally supported making the change.

Voting against Leahy’s ruling has the effect of changing the rules to require only a simple majority for most nominations.

Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin voted in favor of eliminating the filibuster.

More, here

Obama Promised To Sign The Freedom Of Choice Act On Day One, Hasn’t Touched The Issue Since


I’m trying to understand this new Marist poll, which was conducted on June 24th and 25th. The Supreme Court decision came out on the morning of June 24th. Of course, there was also the leak of what turned out to be the majority opinion. That happened on May 2nd.

In the May 12 memo, Meta said it had previously allowed open discussion of abortion at work but later recognized that it had led to “significant disruptions in the workplace given unique legal complexities and the number of people affected by the issue.” The policy had led to a high volume of complaints to the human resources department, and many internal posts regarding abortion were taken down for violating the company’s harassment policy, the memo said.

I know motherhood is not easy. It is a profoundly daunting task to be charged with the spiritual and physical well-being of tiny humans. I also know that most law firms (and most jobs) might not joyfully celebrate an infant’s contributions to a discussion. Tragically, the availability of abortion has made the workplace less friendly to women and mothers. Even in the best of circumstances, being a parent is demanding. And it becomes infinitely harder for single mothers, like my mom, many of whom do not have the support of a family, community, or church. Yet the abortion-on-demand regime imposed by Roe v. Wade is no answer. As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out at oral argument in Dobbs, the United States is less protective of the unborn than almost any nation in the world. Only a few countries (six to be precise) allow for elective, on-demand abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy—including the United States along with China and North Korea. Not a single European nation goes as far as Roe, and most countries either do not allow elective abortions or limit abortions to twelve weeks.

Of course, it’s also perfectly obvious that these sex-strike organizers are doing exactly what social conservatives want: abstaining from sex unless they are open to the gift of life. And what a kick in the head it would be if it turned out that what makes sex as valuable to a women as it is to a man is this potential for creating a child.

Flashback: When Biden opposed Roe; when Trump supported it

forthcoming article in the Columbia Law Review by Professors David S. Cohen, Greer Donley, and Rachel Rebouché surveys some of the new abortion “battlegrounds” we can expect to see. In this article they write:

In this post-Roe world, states will attempt to impose their local abortion policies as widely as possible, even across state lines, and will battle one another over these choices; at the same time, the federal government may intervene to thwart state attempts to control abortion law. In other words, the interjurisdictional abortion wars are coming. . . .

The article provides a useful overview of many of the legal issues that will arise in these “interjurisdictional abortion wars,” in which the central legal questions will not concern substantive due process, but the scope of federal preemption, the autonomy of federal lands and enclaves, and the ability of states to limit interstate shipment of abortion medications, constrain interstate travel, or otherwise extraterritorialize their abortion laws. As I noted here, the White House has been consulting with academics to examine some of these questions, and I expect we will see the first rounds of litigation on some of these questions quite soon.

Perhaps anticipating some of these issues, it is notable that (as my co-bloggers have noted) Justice Kavanaugh made explicit reference to the constitutional right to interstate travel in his Dobbs concurrence. It may also be notable that Court’s conservative justices tend to split on questions of federal preemption (as we saw in Virginia Uranium v. Warren in 2019).

This shouldn’t have been hard to figure out. Any judge who considers himself or herself an originalist was going to believe that Roe is bad law because there wasn’t remotely colorable warrant for it under the Constitution. There might have been varying views on what deference was owed to precedent or other tactical questions; there wasn’t any meaningful disagreement on the core matter. The dance that went on is that Democrats would try to get conservative nominees to say that Roe had been a precedent for a long time. The nominees would agree while not going any further. They’d often cite — correctly — the refusal to comment on contested questions going back to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s confirmation hearings.

Although Blake included it in his quote from Ginsburg’s speech, he doesn’t otherwise mention no-fault divorce. Let’s talk about why Ginsburg connected the no-fault divorce movement with the abortion-rights movement — and why these movements happened in the same time frame. One could say both movements pushed government out of the intimate sphere that belongs to the individual. Another way to put that was both movements served the agenda of the sexual revolution.

Ilya Somin:

Several of the items on the above list highlight inconsistencies by pro-choice liberals. But there is no shortage of similar inconsistency on the right. Consider, for example, conservatives who oppose mask and vaccine mandates on grounds of bodily autonomy, but strongly support the War on Drugs and laws banning prostitution.

Some will object that many of the cases described above must be ruled out because they involve restrictions on activities that are dangerous to health or safety (e.g. – prostitution, taking risky illegal drugs, and so on). If an activity is too dangerous, then government should be able to ban it in order to protect people from their own worst impulses.

But if that’s your view, you’re not really a supporter of “my body, my choice.” Rather, you believe people should only be allowed to make choices that the government (or perhaps some group of experts) deems sufficiently safe. Among other flaws, such paternalism overlooks the possibility that people may legitimately differ over the amount of risk they are willing to accept.

It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations, upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.” Casey, Scalia, J concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part. That is what the Constitution and the rule of law demand

The Packard Foundation, declining live births and the abortion pill

Collin Anderson:

Roughly a decade before his death in 1996, tech titan David Packard issued a controversial directive to his children. Skyrocketing birth rates, the Hewlett-Packard cofounder wrote, could one day cause “utter chaos for humanity.” As a result, Packard asserted, his multibillion-dollar foundation must hold one priority above all others: population control.

Packard—a Republican who served as deputy secretary of defense under President Richard Nixon—did not see eye to eye politically with his three daughters, one of whom succeeded him as chair of his foundation following his death. His liberal offspring took the billionaire’s desire to curb population growth as a jumping off point. While the foundation is unbound legally to honor Packard’s policy wishes, they found a way to embrace his views and pursue their own liberal activism—through expanded abortion access, a mission toward which they devoted nearly $350 million in the last five years alone, according to a review of the foundation’s financial disclosures.

Those expenditures have allowed Packard’s successors to deliver significant victories in furthering the late billionaire’s anti-natalist agenda. Take, for example, the Food and Drug Administration’s December decision to ease the process for getting a chemical abortion pill. The Packard Foundation played a central role in the deregulation fight, funneling millions to liberal advocacy groups that spearheaded the legal and political push to remove the FDA’s abortion pill barriers. The foundation meanwhile invested millions of dollars into GenBioPro, the only company that makes a generic form of the abortion drug.

In 2017, the Packard Foundation gave$1,000,000 to the Reproductive Freedom Project, a division of the American Civil Liberties Union that works to “ensure that all in our society have access to” abortion. That year, Reproductive Freedom Project attorneys suedthe FDA to challenge its abortion pill restrictions, which required patients to receive abortion pills in person from specialty clinics.

Months later, in 2018, the foundation invested$500,000 in GenBioPro. The Nevada-based private company makes the generic form of mifepristone, an oral drug used to cause an abortion. It invested an additional $1.5 million in GenBioPro in 2019, the same year the company’s generic abortion pill received FDA approval and hit the market.

Notes and links on abortion and declining live births.

Selective abortion in India could lead to 6.8m fewer girls being born by 2030

Amrit Dhillon:

An estimated 6.8 million fewer female births will be recorded across India by 2030 because of the persistent use of selective abortions, researchers estimate.

Academics from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia projected the sex ratio at birth in 29 Indian states and union territories, covering almost the entire population, taking into account each state’s desired sex ratio at birth and the population’s fertility rates.

The cultural preference for a son was found to be highest in 17 states in the north of the country, with the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh showing the highest deficit in female births. Researchers predict that the cumulative number of missing female births in the state would be 2 million between 2017 and 2030.

NEA passes resolution defending the ‘fundamental right to abortion’

Patrick Hauf:

The NEA is the largest teachers’ union in the U.S. with more than 3 million members. It collected nearly $400 million from American educators in 2018, according to federal labor filings. The union is also one of the most politically active in the country, spending $70 million on politics and lobbying in 2017 and 2018. Nearly all of the union’s political action committee spending went to Democrats during the midterm cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

US abortion data:

In 2016, 623,471 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 48 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2016 was 11.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births.

Compared with 2015, the total number and rate of reported abortions fell by 2%, and the abortion ratio decreased by 1%. Additionally, from 2007 to 2016, the number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased 24%, 26%, and 18%, respectively. In 2016, all three measures reached their lowest level for the entire period of analysis (2007-2016).

Women in their twenties accounted for the majority of abortions in 2016 and throughout the period of analysis. The majority of abortions in 2016 took place early in gestation: 91.0% of abortions were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation; a smaller number of abortions (7.7%) were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation, and even fewer (1.2%) were performed at ≥21 weeks’ gestation. In 2016, 27.9% of all abortions were early medical abortions (a nonsurgical abortion at ≤8 weeks’ gestation). The percentage of abortions reported as early medical abortions increased 113% from 2007 to 2016, with a 14% increase from 2015 to 2016. Source: MMWR Surveill Summ 2019;68(No. SS-11).

WHO global abortion data.

Appeal court overturns forced abortion ruling

Harriett Sherwood:

On Friday, the court of protection in London decided an abortion was in the best interests of the woman, who is in her 20s, and is 22 weeks pregnant. She has the mental capacity of a six- to nine-year-old child.

Justice Nathalie Lieven, who made the original ruling, described it as “heartbreaking”, saying: “I am acutely conscious of the fact that for the state to order a woman to have a termination where it appears that she doesn’t want it is an immense intrusion.”

But, she added, she had to act in the woman’s “best interests, not on society’s views of termination”.

The NHS trust that is caring for the woman had sought the court’s permission for doctors to terminate the pregnancy. Three specialists, an obstetrician and two psychiatrists, said a termination was the best option because of the risk to the woman’s psychiatric health if pregnancy continued.

Both the woman and her mother were opposed to the abortion, and the woman’s mother had offered to care for the child. A social worker who works with the woman said the pregnancy should continue.

The court was told last week that the woman had a “moderately severe” learning disorder and a mood disorder.

Civics: Does anything link the eugenics of the past to abortion today?

Ross Douthat:

The Thomas argument, common inside the pro-life movement but startling to many, is that the present “reproductive rights” regime may effectively extend older eugenic efforts to reduce populations deemed unfit. His dissent cited the eugenic inclinations of progressive icons like Margaret Sanger, while pointing out that today’s abortion rates are highest among populations — racial minorities and the disabled — that the older eugenicists hoped to cull.

This argument prompted multiple rejoinders. First, that many past progressives were racist but today’s pro-choice progressivism isn’t, and it is a “genetic fallacy” to link the two. Second, that the original eugenicists, Sanger included, did not usually favor abortion, so it’s a mistake to connect their views to the pro-choice case. Third, that the original eugenicists wanted governments to practice “collective biosocial engineering,” while the contemporary effects Thomas decries are the result of dispersed individual choices, a very different thing.

Fresh Air Weekend: Mental Health On Campus; How Eugenics Shaped Immigration Policy

There Are 23 Million ‘Missing’ Girls in The World Due to Sex-Selective Abortions

Carly Cassella :

While no country has a perfectly even sex ratio, normally researchers would expect roughly 105 male births to every 100 female births.

Compiling data from over 200 nations – including 10,835 observations, and 16,602 years of information – the authors noticed a shocking number of countries have strayed from this mark.

“The estimated regional baseline values differ significantly from 1.05 for the majority of the regions we study,” the authors write.

“In addition, almost half (88 out of 212) of the estimated country-level baseline values, accounting for ethnic difference across countries within a region, are significantly different from 1.05.”

Of those 88 countries with higher-than-normal ratios, the authors pinpointed a dozen that looked worrisome.

Choose Life: the ongoing battle – China’s Proposed ‘No Child Tax’ Stirs Controversy: “First Forced Abortions, Now Pressured Into Pregnancy”

What’s on Weibo:

A recent article, in which two Chinese academics propose the implementation of some sort of ‘tax’ for people under 40 who have no second child, has sparked outrage on social media. “The same woman who had to undergo a forced abortion before, is now pressured to get pregnant,” some say. A controversial ‘no child tax’ measure proposed by two Chinese academics has set off a wave of criticism on Chinese social media this week. The proposal was published in Xinhua Daily, a newspaper controlled by the Jiangsu Communist Party branch, on August 14, and was authored by Nanjing University economics professors Liu Zhibiao (刘志彪) and Zhang Ye (张晔). In their proposal, Liu and Zhang suggest various measures to prevent a supposed demographic crisis in mainland China. Their idea of imposing taxes on those who do not have a second child particularly sparked anger online. The authors plead for a so-called ‘maternity fund system’ (生育基金制度) in which citizens under the age of 40, regardless of gender, have to pay a certain percentage of their income in some sort of ‘tax fund’ as long as they do not bear a second child. They write:

Tom Whipple on “Editing a Human”:

Doudna was in for a shock. “One attendee [at the conference] pulled me aside and said three manuscripts had been submitted to journals involving experiments on human embryos. He said, ‘You should know this is happening.’” The labs in China had destroyed the embryos they had developed, and the modification had been only partial. Far sooner than predicted, a threshold had been crossed.

The Francis Crick Institute in London is conducting its own experiments on creating fully edited human embryos, though as its goal is scientific discovery not designer babies, it destroys the embryos.

Terrency Jeffrey:

“The production of TKO-BLT mice to obtain healthy mice with high level reconstitution of human cells and tissues requires specialized methods that are presented in detail,” says the abstract at the top of the article.

“The methods in this manuscript will help prevent duplication of the empirical work done to optimize this humanization protocol and maximize the future success of others endeavoring to produce TKO-BLT mice,” the researchers say in their introduction.

The researchers stated that they “routinely produced cohorts of approximately 40 TKO-BLT mice from a single tissue donor.”

They indicated that the human tissue donors were at 17 to 22 weeks gestational age and that their tissue was provided to the researchers by Advanced Bioscience Resources, which is a non-profit organization located in Alameda, Calif.

This summary of recent newsfeed items reminds me of Bonnie Raitt’s “Nick of Time lyrics:

Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste.

Student Planning Abortion Protest After School Shooting Walkout

Lemor Abrams:

This week, Rocklin High School students are using social media to organize a pro-life walkout using the hashtag #life.

“To honor all the lives of aborted babies pretty much. All the millions of aborted babies every year,” said organizer Brandon Gillespie.

He says his history teacher inspired the idea.

As thousands of students across the country walked out of class demanding strict gun laws, in honor of the Parkland shooting victims, Benzel was placed on paid administrative leave when she asked students to consider whether there’s a double standard in the national school walkout.

“I would like a conversation about when is too much? And are we going allow this on the other side?” said Julianne Benzel

Global abortion data ( | Pew)

Has Iceland Eliminated Down Syndrome Through Abortion?


The report does not suggest that, however. It suggests that nearly 100 percent of the 80 to 85 percent of people who take the test choose to abort their pregnancy. There are similar termination rates after fetal diagnoses of Down syndrome in other European countries. In Denmark, for example, the rate is about 98 percent, CBS News reported. In the United States, for comparison’s sake, the rate of mothers choosing to terminate their pregnancy after receiving a Down syndrome diagnosis is about 68 percent.

“Babies with Down syndrome are still being born in Iceland,” Hulda Hjartardottir, head of the Prenatal Diagnosis Unit at Landspitali University Hospital, in which around 70 percent of Icelandic children are born, told CBS News.

Mother Teresa on abortion. Eugenics. Margaret Sanger. 10 commandments. Planned Parenthood. Roe vs wade.

Baby in womb photos.

Abortion statistics.

Chinese Father of Four Forced to Undergo Vasectomy: Case sheds light on forced sterilization, abortion quotas, and other dubious family planning practices.

Wang Lianzhang:

After spending more than 10 years away from his hometown of Luokan, in the southwestern province of Yunnan, a 42-year-old man was forced by local authorities to undergo a vasectomy upon returning for the lunar new year holiday. He was taken away by family planning officials on Feb. 8, and the operation was concluded the next day.

The fecund fugitive, surnamed Hu, was reprimanded for having four children: Already the father of two sons and one daughter, he divorced his first wife, married another woman, and had a fourth child. Zhenxiong County authorities determined that Hu had violated the two-child policy and would undergo a vasectomy as punishment.

New data reveal scale of China abortions

Simon Rabinovitch

Chinese doctors have performed more than 330m abortions since the government implemented a controversial family planning policy 40 years ago, according to official data from the health ministry.
China’s one-child policy has been the subject of a heated debate about its economic consequences as the population ages. Forced abortions and sterilisations have also been criticised by human rights campaigners such as Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal activist who sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing last year.
China first introduced measures to limit the size of the population in 1971, encouraging couples to have fewer children. The one-child rule, with exceptions for ethnic minorities and some rural families, was implemented at the end of the decade.
Since 1971, doctors have performed 336m abortions and 196m sterilisations, the data reveal. They have also inserted 403m intrauterine devices, a normal birth control procedure in the west but one that local officials often force on women in China.

Reports surface that teens are taking cow drugs for abortions

Erin Richards:

Veterinary and medical professionals in Wisconsin said Friday that they have been warned about a potentially alarming practice among the state’s rural youth: teenage girls ingesting livestock drugs to cheaply and discreetly end their unwanted pregnancies.
So far, the professionals in animal and human health and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction are treating the reports of girls inducing their own abortions with prostaglandins – drugs commonly used by cow breeders to regulate animals’ heat cycles – as rumors, because no cases have been officially confirmed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
But Anna Anderson, the executive director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Green County in Monroe, maintains that she has identified at least 10 girls ages 14 to 18 in a three-county area who admitted to taking some form of cow abortifacient in the past year.
Anderson said the girls told her they took it because they found it to be a cheap and easy way to end their pregnancies without their parents finding out.
At the American Veterinary Medical Association, Assistant Director Kimberly May said Friday that her organization first heard the rumor about the teenagers in mid-February from the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. Since then, the American Animal Hospital Association has also posted an advisory about the issue on its Web site.
Injected properly in livestock, prostaglandins shorten a heat cycle so a female animal can be bred again, May said.

Academic journals are a lucrative scam – and we’re determined to change that

Arash Abizadeh

If you’ve ever read an academic article, the chances are that you were unwittingly paying tribute to a vast profit-generating machine that exploits the free labour of researchers and siphons off public funds.

The annual revenues of the “big five” commercial publishers – Elsevier, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, Springer Nature, and SAGE – are each in the billions, and some have staggering profit margins approaching 40%, surpassing even the likes of Google. Meanwhile, academics do almost all of the substantive work to produce these articles free of charge: we do the research, write the articles, vet them for quality and edit the journals.

Not only do these publishers not pay us for our work; they then sell access to these journals to the very same universities and institutions that fund the research and editorial labour in the first place. Universities need access to journals because these are where most cutting-edge research is disseminated. But the cost of subscribing to these journals has become so exorbitantly expensive that some universities are struggling to afford them. Consequently, many researchers (not to mention the general public) remain blocked by paywalls, unable to access the information they need. If your university or library doesn’t subscribe to the main journals, downloading a single paywalled article on philosophy or politics can cost between £30 and £40.

The commercial stranglehold on academic publishing is doing considerable damage to our intellectual and scientific culture. As disinformation and propaganda spread freely online, genuine research and scholarship remains gated and prohibitively expensive. For the past couple of years, I worked as an editor of Philosophy & Public Affairs, one of the leading journals in political philosophyIt was founded in 1972, and it has published research from renowned philosophers such as John RawlsJudith Jarvis Thomson and Peter Singer. Many of the most influential ideas in our field, on topics from abortion and democracy to famine and colonialism, started out in the pages of this journalBut earlier this year, my co-editors and I and our editorial board decided we’d had enough, and resigned en masse.

Recent birth counts point to rapidly shrinking school enrollment in Milwaukee

John Johnson:

Many things affect a school (or district’s) enrollment, but the most important is simply how many children live there.

In Milwaukee, recent birth trends point to a future of dwindling class sizes, beginning in elementary school and working their way up through the higher grades. Absent a spike in the birth rate or a big change in migration, the three sectors—district, charter, and private—will find themselves fighting over a shrinking pie.

Across the 1990s, the number of babies born fell by 13%. Then, the trend stabilized, even growing slightly, until the Great Recession. 773 fewer babies were born in 2010 than 2009, and annual declines continued after that. From 2009 to 2019, the number of births fell by 17%.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a drop in births similar to the Great Recession a decade prior. Births fell by 540 in 2020, 439 in 2021, and 358 in 2022. Losses stabilized in 2023, when the preliminary count shows 7,905 births, still 14% lower than prior to the pandemic.


Abortion notes.


“enrollment has declined by nearly 67% over the past 10 years”


Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt announced the university’s Fox Cities campus will close in June 2025 due to low enrollment — the sixth two-year campus in two years to either end in-person instruction or shut completely.

Leavitt confirmed the news Thursday after Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson blasted him and UW President Jay Rothman for the decision this morning. 

“We reach this decision after spending a year analyzing UWO Fox Cities enrollment, the region’s and state’s changing demographics, student participation rates, the regional higher-education landscape, potential for new and unique academic offerings and economic trends in the competitive Fox Valley marketplace,” Leavitt said. “In the end, we made a difficult but responsible decision.” 

The decision comes as enrollment has declined by nearly 67% over the past 10 years, with a five-year average decline of nearly 19%. The campus had just 454 full-time equivalent students in the fall.

And with the number of high school graduates in the state expected to go down 13% over the next 10 years, a UW-Oshkosh analysis projected the possibility of fewer than 100 students at the Fox Cities campus by 2032.


Wisconsin abortion data.

Live births:

  • In 2022, there were 60,032 births, 2,054 of which were multiples (for example, twins, triplets, etc.).
  • The Wisconsin state birth rate continued to slowly decline over the past 20 years, dropping from 12.7 live births per 1,000 people in 2003 to 10.2 in 2022. This decline has been slower than the downward U.S. trend, narrowing the gap between the state and the national birth rate.

Many left-leaning, middle-class Americans speak of kids as though they are impositions, or means to an end.

Jay Caspian Kang

A new book by Anastasia Berg and Rachel Wiseman, “What Are Children For?,” is an engaging, literary investigation into why so many highly educated, financially comfortable women in the United States are ambivalent about having children, and how we should actually think about that decision. (I recently interviewed the authors on a podcast that I co-host.) To understand the reasoning of their contemporaries, Berg and Wiseman distributed surveys and conducted interviews with “dozens of Zoomers, millennials, and Gen Xers.” More than ninety per cent of their respondents had a college degree, they note, and nearly seventy per cent had a graduate degree. This focus on the middle and upper middle class might feel limiting, especially for a book with such an ambitious title, but the public conversation about the relative morality of having children has been shaped, to a great degree, by this demographic.

Within this larger discourse, Berg and Wiseman see a landscape of beleaguered people who have leaned a bit too far into their political and cultural beliefs, trading in the joys of life for an overly determinative belief that children will suffer inescapable misery. The thought of having children, in these mostly progressive circles, is often weighed against rising existential risk, whether stemming from climate change, the emergence of the far right, or even artificial intelligence. This, the authors point out, is a weird way to talk about kids. And they envision a near future in which that conversation becomes further polarized, with the anti-abortion right on one side and an increasingly anti-natalist left on the other. This outcome, they think, would be disastrous. “Simply put,” Wiseman writes, in the book’s introduction, “the question of whether or not to have a family is too important to allow it to be a casualty of the culture war.”

Free speech and the academic paper mill

Kate Roberson:

An academic journal has reversed course and rejected an article about abortion that it initially accepted, citing concerns about the author being a “white” “male,” according to an email from the editor obtained by The College Fix.

The article “Abortion Restrictions are Good for Black Women” by philosopher Perry Hendricks initially was accepted for publication earlier this year in The New Bioethics. However, the journal’s editors put it on hold after an abstract received criticism on social media.

Now, Hendricks told The Fix the journal has rejected it.

Editor Matthew James told Hendricks in a May 23 email that the journal rescinded its decision to publish his piece after a second peer review process, according to screenshots of the email Hendricks shared with The Fix.

Due to a publisher’s technical error, James told Hendricks he did not read the article before it was accepted, as is the standard process. He apologized on behalf of the publisher.

After reviewing the paper, James wrote he has “significant concerns” about its “academic quality and rigour” that revisions could not fix.

Life during and after the coming Demographic Winter.

Glenn Reynolds:

Over the past 50+ years, traditional ideas, like Butker’s, about marriage, child-rearing, and gender roles have been marginalized, in favor of those the put much less emphasis on, well, marriage, child-rearing, and traditional views about gender roles. 

And now we’re facing a global baby bust, or as some are calling it, a “demographic winter” due to plunging birth rates worldwide.  “Fertility rates have fallen way below replacement level throughout the entire industrialized world, and this is starting to cause major problems all over the globe.  Aging populations are counting on younger generations to take care of them as they get older, but younger generations are not nearly large enough to accomplish that task.  Meanwhile, there aren’t enough qualified young workers in many fields to replace the expertise of older workers that are now retiring.  Sadly, this is just the beginning.”

Back in the 1960s we started to worry about a “population explosion,” and Paul Ehrlich’s highly influential bestseller, “The Population Bomb,” set the tone:  Fewer people being born was better.  All sorts of policies were driven by this concern, on topics ranging from sex, birth-control, and abortion, to the desirability of smaller, two-earner families, all the way to China’s disastrous one-child policy.

But it turns out that Ehrlich was criminally wrong, and now the chickens are coming home to roost, as we face what Brink Lindsey calls a global fertility collapse.

Countries all over the world are trying, with limited success at best, to boost birth rates.   Subsidies are nice, but the costs of raising children – in terms of not just money, but time and emotional effort – are too high for almost any imaginable subsidy to overcome.


Harrison Butker:

I say all of this not from a place of anger, as we get the leaders we deserve. But this does make me reflect on staying in my lane and focusing on my own vocation and how I can be a better father and husband and live in the world but not be of it. Focusing on my vocation while praying and fasting for these men will do more for the Church than me complaining about her leaders.

Because there seems to be so much confusion coming from our leaders, there needs to be concrete examples for people to look to in places like Benedictine, a little Kansas college built high on a bluff above the Missouri River, are showing the world how an ordered, Christ-centered existence is the recipe for success. You need to look no further than the examples all around this campus, where over the past 20 years, enrollment has doubled, construction and revitalization are a constant part of life, and people, the students, the faculty and staff, are thriving. This didn’t happen by chance. In a deliberate movement to embrace traditional Catholic values, Benedictine has gone from just another liberal arts school with nothing to set it apart to a thriving beacon of light and a reminder to us all that when you embrace tradition, success — worldly and spiritual — will follow.

Urban school districts grapple with under-resourced schools, emotional closures in the face of plummeting enrollment

Sara Randazzo and Matt Barnum:

Solis’s closure is an omen of what could be coming to more schools in Los Angeles and cities across the country. And it reflects a difficult-to-sustain dynamic: too many schools for too few students.

As birthrates have dipped, families have moved elsewhere, and public school alternatives have grown, many urban districts have hemorrhaged students. That has left officials with the difficult choice of keeping open shrinking schools with resources spread thin or shutting them down, a move that inevitably garners fierce community backlash. How school leaders navigate this challenge could define urban school systems for the next several years.

Schools in Los Angeles are shrinking

Many LAUSD schools have fewer students enrolled since 2010

Choose life.

Which other colleges are at risk of shutting down?


Birth rates have steadily declined since the Great Recession in 2008, a cohort that will start graduating high school next year. At the same time, tuition and operating costs have skyrocketed. And with rising doubts among Americans about the value of higher education, more campus closures are “inevitable and probably necessary,” McCarter said.

Nationwide, undergraduate enrollment increased slightly this year to 15.3 million but is still down nearly 1 million students from fall 2019, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. And colleges that were already struggling before the pandemic are now running out of federal relief funds.

Fontbonne joins a growing list of private liberal arts colleges that have collapsed under financial pressures in recent years, including Lincoln College and MacMurray College in Illinois.

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louisreleased a watchlist in March of 37 Midwestern colleges in danger of closing due to “significant financial distress” in the past five years.


Choose life. Notes and links on abortion,

Civics: “judge-mandering” – America’s federal district courts may soon be harder to manipulate

The Economist:

The strategy—call it “judge-mandering”, a cousin of electoral gerrymandering—has thwarted Mr Biden’s policies on immigration, student loans and abortion pills. Before that it frustrated Mr Trump’s efforts to bar transgender soldiers, divert emergency funds to build a border wall and keep out travellers from certain Muslim countries. Judge-mandering has two components: filing lawsuits in places where litigants are guaranteed to find a friendly judge; and seeking a ruling that applies nationwide.,quality=80,format=auto/content-assets/images/20240511_USC967.png

Thirteen federal judges said Monday that they would no longer hire law clerks from Columbia College or Columbia Law School

Aaron Sibarium:

Thirteen federal judges said Monday that they would no longer hire law clerks from Columbia College or Columbia Law School after the university allowed an encampment on its lawn to spiral into a destructive occupation of a campus building. The judges cited the “explosion of student disruptions” and the “virulent spread of antisemitism” at Columbia, which has now canceled its main graduation ceremony because of the unrest.

Led by appellate judges James Ho and Elizabeth Branch, who spearheaded a clerkship boycott of Yale Law School in 2022 and Stanford Law School in 2023, as well as by Matthew Solomson on the U.S Court of Federal Claims, the judges wrote in a letter to Columbia president Minouche Shafik that they would no longer hire “anyone who joins the Columbia University community—whether as undergraduates or as law students—beginning with the entering class of 2024.”

“Freedom of speech protects protest, not trespass, and certainly not acts or threats of violence or terrorism,” the judges wrote. “It has become clear that Columbia applies double standards when it comes to free speech and student misconduct.”

The letter’s signatories include Alan Albright, a district judge who hears a fourth of the nation’s patent cases; Stephen Vaden, a former general counsel at the Department of Agriculture who now sits on the United States Court of International Trade; and Matthew Kacsmaryk, the district judge who suspended approval of the abortion drug mifepristone in a controversial ruling last year. Others are well-known district judges appointed by former president Donald Trump.

“Planned Parenthood seeking an original action ruling from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCoW)”


The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed a response to a case brought by Planned Parenthood seeking an original action ruling from the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCoW) that would create a constitutional right to an abortion in Wisconsin. WILL believes ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood would embroil SCoW in the same mess of policy questions that Roe v. Wade created.  

As WILL has stated before, Wisconsin’s duly elected legislature and governor should go through the normal legislative process and create policy to govern abortion.  

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Luke Berg, stated, “There is no right to an abortion in Wisconsin’s Constitution. No judge, justice, or lawyer should be creating policy for Wisconsinites out of thin air. Reversing Roe v. Wade through the Dobbs decision rightfully placed the abortion issue back where it should have been all along—in the halls of state legislatures. That’s where the debate and conversation must remain.”  

Where Would the Court Draw the Line? If the Wisconsin Supreme Court were to agree with Planned Parenthood, what would happen next? For example, would the prohibitions on abortions after viability, Wis. Stat. § 940.15, or after the unborn child can experience pain (defined in the statute as 20 weeks), Wis. Stat. § 253.107, also be unconstitutional? How about partial-birth abortions, very late term abortions? None of those prohibitions are challenged or at issue in this case, but if this Court constitutionalizes abortion, it will have to answer these questions sooner or later.  


Choose life.

Civics: Blue-collar workers have been abandoned by both the Democrats and the Republicans. Batya Ungar-Sargon explains why.

Batya Ungar-Sargon

But what if I told you that the people in the political and media classes are the ones who are polarized—in fact, they are the onlyones who are so polarized?

This is obvious to most Americans, even—perhaps especially—to those who have neighbors or friends or colleagues who vote differently than they do. Regular Americans know we are more united than divided on the issues that are supposedly tearing us apart.

Democrats portray conservatives as characters out of The Handmaid’s Tale, and Republicans portray liberals as “baby killers. Yet two-thirds of Americans agree that abortion should be rare and also legal.

Democrats like to tell us that Republicans are gung ho on school shootings, and Republicans are fond of saying Democrats want to steal our guns. Yet 61 percent of usbelieve that the Second Amendment should stand, but it’s too easy to get a gun. 

Democrats tell us Republicans hate gays and Republicans tell us that Democrats want every child to be queer. Yet average Americans believe that sex is determined at birth and that trans people should be protected from discrimination, though when it comes to sports, trans people should compete on teams that match the sex they were born with. This is how six in ten of us feel. 

The partisan claims of a polarized America ring especially false to working-class Americans. This is because—unlike the college-educated elites who run the country—they don’t identify with the full list of policy proposals produced by either party. 

K-12 Tax & $pending Climate: 2028 and local politics

Russell Berman:

The tragedy hardened Longo’s views on crime and abortion. “I could not vote for President Biden,” he said. Khanna sat quietly as Longo spoke. “One of the challenges we have as a country is we have a wrong stereotypical view of the Trump voter,” Khanna said to us after the conversation had moved on. “The Trump voter includes possibly the teacher you most respect.”

Longo spoke highly of Khanna, praising his slogan of “progressive capitalism” and his push to use technology to create economic opportunity. He even said he might be able to vote for Khanna one day. “A Trump-Khanna voter!” Khanna marveled.

Students Aren’t the Obstacle to Open Debate at Harvard

Tarek Massed:

Professors hear a great deal these days about how hard it is to get our students to listen to, much less to engage with, opinions they dislike. The problem, we are told, is that students are either “snowflakes” with fragile psyches or “authoritarians” who care more about their pet causes than about democratic values such as tolerance, compromise and respect for opposing points of view.

Students at Harvard, where I teach, returned from winter break in January to an institution that appeared determined to tackle this problem head-on. An email from the undergraduate dean reminded them that “The purpose of a Harvard education is not to shield you from ideas you dislike or to silence people you disagree with; it is to enable you to confront challenging ideas, interrogate your own beliefs, make up your mind and learn to think for yourself.”

To that end, the university launched the “Harvard Dialogues,” a series of events “designed to enhance our ability to engage in respectful and robust debate.” But so far, the effort seems to consist of little more than talking about talking, with events with titles like “Coming Together Across Difference: Finding Common Ground Across Identities and Political Divides” and “Constructive Dialogue in the Age of Social Media.” Absent from this agenda are real discussions about the actual things that divide us, such as abortion, climate change and Israel-Palestine.

Cousins are disappearing. Is this reshaping the experience of childhood?

Natalie Stechyson

It’s something her own children won’t experience.

Lancastle’s older brother and sister don’t have children and her husband is an only child. So Nicholas, 9, and Charlie, 7, don’t have any cousins at all — a growing trend as the decreasing fertility rate causes extended families to narrow over time, sociologists and demographers say.

Worldwide, families are shrinking, according to a kinship study published in December in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. That study, using international demographic data for every country in the world, projected a 38 per cent global decline in living relatives for individuals aged 65 by the year 2095, compared to 1950.


Choose life.

Fewer and faster: Global fertility isn’t just declining, it’s collapsing

James Pethokoukis

But there’s another kind of Peak Human, a moment whose occurrence and timing are far more foreseeable. If you’re a Millennial or a younger Gen Xer, you’ll probably see the start of a long-term decline in human population due to the global collapse in fertility. That’s something that’s never happened before with Homo sapiens. While the most recent UN forecast sees a possible population peak of nearly 10.4 billion in the mid-2080s, plenty of other experts see our species’ numbers cresting at a far lower level — and much earlier:

A key factor in population projections is the fertility rate, particularly how it might change over time. When University of Pennsylvania economist Jesús Fernández-Villaverde calculates global fertility rates, he finds them “falling much faster than anyone had realized before.” Something more like that UN Low Scenario in the above chart. As Fernández-Villaverde (I will be referring to several of his papers and essay throughout) told me in an enlightening Faster, Please! podcast:

Choose life.

Civics: Keyword Search Warrants

Julia Love:

On Friday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and its Pennsylvania chapter argued in a court filing that the investigative technique used in the case, known as a keyword search warrant, is dangerously broad and threatens to infringe on the privacy rights of innocent people.

“Keyword search warrants are digital dragnets giving the government permission to rummage through our most private information, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should find them unconstitutional,” NACDL Fourth Amendment Center Litigation Director Michael Price said in a statement.

A lawyer for the defendant and a representative for Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

There are few known examples of keyword search warrants, but the practice has come under scrutiny in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the right to abortion. Privacy advocates have warned that keyword search warrants and geofence warrants, in which police ask Google to produce data about users whose devices were present near the scene of a crime, could be used to prosecute women who obtain abortions in states where it’s illegal.

Japan’s 18-year-olds at record-low 1.06 million on falling births

Japan Times:

The number of those that have reached Japan’s legal adult age fell by 60,000 from 2023 and accounted for 0.86% of Japan’s total population, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said Sunday.

The year 2005, when the new adults were born, had seen the country’s total fertility rate — the average number of children a woman is estimated to bear in her lifetime — fall to a record-low 1.26, later matched by that of 2022.

In Japan, the age of adulthood was lowered from 20 to 18 in April 2022 in a bid to encourage active social participation by youth.

Choose life..

Ivy League Presidents and the Collapse of Moral Reasoning

Bishop Robert Barron:

Last week, the presidents of three Ivy League universities—Harvard, MIT, and Penn—appeared before Congress to address the issue of anti-Semitism on their campuses, in the wake of the conflict between Hamas and the state of Israel. In their formal statements as well as in the conversation with the congressional committee members, they acknowledged the tension between free speech and the legitimate regulation of certain types of provocative rhetoric. But as the dialogue unfolded, Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, became increasingly impatient with what she took to be the presidents’ diffidence regarding extreme forms of anti-Semitic speech at their universities. She finally pressed each one of them: “Would calling for the genocide of Jews constitute a violation of the code of conduct at your school, yes or no?” Astonishingly, each of them balked, insisting that it depended upon the context.

All three women have justifiably faced massive blowback and calls for their resignations, due to the baffling lack of moral clarity in their statements. I should like to explore, however briefly, what has made this kind of moral opaqueness and muddle-headedness possible. First, in the minds of far too many people today, the category of the intrinsically evil act has disappeared. In classical moral philosophy, an intrinsically evil act is one that is, by its very nature, so disordered that it could never be justified or permitted. Good examples of this include slavery, rape, the direct killing of the innocent, and acts of terrorism. Nothing in the circumstances surrounding such acts or in the intentionality of the one performing them could ever turn them into something morally praiseworthy. When we lose a sensitivity to the intrinsically evil, we fall, automatically, into a moral relativism, whereby even the most egregiously wicked act can be justified or explained away. To give just one obvious example, abortion, which involves the direct killing of the innocent, is justified by millions today on account of its purportedly positive effects.

When we lose a sensitivity to the intrinsically evil, we fall, automatically, into a moral relativism . . . 

Civics: History and the Supreme Court

Christopher Hitchens and the collapse of journalism and critical thinking

Mark Judge:

In a couple of weeks, publisher Twelve Books will release A Hitch in Time: Reflections Ready for Reconsideration, a collection of essays by the late journalist Christopher Hitchens . I secured an early copy of the book. Hitchens’s writing is still sparkling and insightful, even though he died in 2011.

Hitchens is still so bracing because, unlike journalists today, he operated in a zone of fearlessness and real freedom. The smog of ” wokeness ” had not yet descended onto the West. And the years Hitchens spent as a reporter and foreign correspondent and his deep education had given him experience that made him more than a pundit.

An atheist, he had emerged from socialist movements in Britain yet expressed doubt about abortion and supported the Iraq War. Hitchens despised religion, harshly mocked Islam, and championed banned writer Salman Rushdie. He never held back an opinion, but he had never arrived at that opinion in a sloppy way. At one symposium, he argued to the other journalists that “no one is controlling your typewriter keys.”

In other words, be fearless. You’re free, so act like it.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: declining parenthood and the tax base

Michael Walsh:

Social Security’s problems aren’t just its unrealistic economics, which posited starting from a hole and an ever-increasing work force paying taxes in order to support the generation ahead of it; the “trust fund” was always a polite fiction, which as you see is now being stealthily abandoned. But keeping Social Security solvent isn’t just a matter of calibrating tax rates. What FDR and its founders never contemplated was that Americans would stop having children,and yet continue to expect retirement money. So the solution is obvious: ladies (and some gentlemen), if you proudly announce you will never have children, that your career is more important and you get all the love you need from your “fur babies,” your SS benefits should be $0.00 until such time as you actually get some skin in the game in the form of real babies. (Adopting doesn’t count.)

Choose life.


Robin Hanson:

Re fertility decline, yes, as the main change in the last half century is the number of women who become moms, not the number of kids per mom, all we need is a larger fraction of women having kids. Yes, as that used to happen, it must still be feasible. Yes, a big enough subsidy per kid would work, and we could make the new kids pay for that via government debt. And yes, as we’ve seen fertility rise at some times and places, there’s historical variation that we could plausibly mine to find factors to promote fertility.

However, it takes voters who want more kids to vote in politicians who promote them. After all, the cultural ask re higher fertility is huge, plausibly even larger than to cut carbon emissions. The trends to be opposed are in both cases deeply embedded in existing culture, and in ways that most of us treasure. Societies in history that have loudly lamented fertility declines, and tried to reverse them, either among elites or more widely, have consistently failed. This includes recent versions of our societies. Our world’s fertility decline has been pretty consistent for ~2.5 centuries, and local deviations have so far always been temporary. 

Thirteen years ago I guessed fertility to be our biggest problem, but didn’t let it distract me much. Two years ago I guessed that insular fertile subcultures is how fertility decline will end, but still didn’t let the topic distract me. A few months I realized that innovation would grind to a halt during a declining economy, and since have read and talked much on the topic.

Alas this has confirmed my worse fears. I’m not sure quite how best to persuade you all of this, but world population will soon fall fast, and then unless we achieve full AGI or end aging by then, our total world economic capacity will also fall, with scale economies and innovation rates both falling roughly in proportion. Actually innovation will fall faster due to diminishing returns, populations getting older, and lower-than-Western African innovation quality.

Choose life.

Academic Freedom and the Harvard Hedge Fund

Colleen Farabaugh:

A conservative Harvard University professor described his fight against cancellation by his peers after he publicly came out against the Supreme Court’s redefining of marriage.

Harvard School of Public Health Professor Tyler VanderWeele detailed the saga in a nine-page article titled “Moral Controversies and academic public health; notes on navigating and surviving academic freedom challenges.”

VanderWeele wrote in an email to The College Fix that his “hope” for the paper, slated to be published in the journal Global Epidemiology, “was simply to encourage discussion of these issues within the academic community.”

“The Harvard Chan School of Public Health leadership has already put forward an updated statement on freedom of expression as a result of these events, which seems very good, and our interim Dean Jane Kim has been very supportive, so I am hopeful about the future,” he wrote.

Why is denying less well-off families the same educational options that more well-to-do families have progressive?

Dave Cieslewicz

Now comes a predictable lawsuit from a liberal group that was filed recently directly with the state Supreme Court, skipping the usual process that starts with lower courts. It’s predictable because now that the Court has a 4-3 liberal majority every liberal cause in the state that can afford a lawyer will be knocking on that Court’s door. That’s fine. It’s part of our system, but it doesn’t mean we have to agree with every cause. For example, I agree with the causes of fair legislative district maps and of freedom of choice on abortion while I disagree with attacks on school choice. (Note: Liberals and most Democrats will not give me a break for being right on two out of three of these litmus tests. Orthodoxy brooks no opposition.)

In a ludicrous statement, the plaintiffs in this case claim that giving parents a choice is a “cancer” on public education. “What started out as a small experimental program in Milwaukee in the 1990s has been transformed by our Legislature into a large and growing cancer on Wisconsin’s public schools,” the complaint says. 

If something starts out as an experiment and now has grown exponentially because of parental demand, doesn’t that suggest that the experiment was a success? Public school administrators and teachers unions need to stop complaining and start competing. If you’re losing students, well, why is that? What are you doing wrong? How can you compete and recapture your market share? 

The rhetoric of the complaint becomes even more untethered when the plaintiffs claim, “This parasitic funding system is pushing public school districts into an ever-worsening financial crisis, which is leading to what can only be described as a funding death spiral for public education.”

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

America’s fertility crash laid bare: Interactive map shows how birth rate has plummeted since 2007 – falling by up to a THIRD in some states

Luke Andrews:

Dr Melissa Kearney, an economic professor at the University of Maryland, previously told ‘There has been a greater emphasis on spending time building careers. Adults are changing their attitudes towards having kids.

‘They are choosing to spend money and time in different ways… [that] are coming into conflict with parenting.’

There are also signs the ‘Instagram generation’ of millennials and baby boomers are now prioritizing travel and relaxation over building families.

As a result, people are waiting longer to have children than in previous generations — with older women more likely to have fewer children. A number of women are also conceiving via fertility treatment, driving a rise of mothers in their 40s.

The higher cost of living and rising costs of childcare have also been blamed.

Dr Phillip Levine, an economist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, warned previously that the decline would eventually ‘have a damaging impact both on social cohesion and general well-being.’

Abortion data. Planned Parenthood by the numbers.

There are <i>more</i>, not fewer, abortions in the year after <i>Dobbs</i>, but isn’t the increase in the earliest weeks of pregnancy?

The Fertility Crisis

Zvi Mowshowitz

The world is slowly waking up to the fertility crisis. There is more acknowledgement of the problem, and there is more talk of potential practical solutions. I do not believe the topic is a realistic target for Balsa Policy Institute, but I will continue to keep an eye on the ball and issue periodic roundups like this one.


Embryo Selection

Diana Fleischman, Ives Parr, Jonathan Anomaly, and Laurent Tellier:

This is where a new technology comes in: preimplantation genetic testing for polygenic disorders (PGT-P) or polygenic screening, which may inform which embryo parents choose and who is born. Because embryo choice is so consequential, polygenic screening—like other, new reproductive technologies before it—attracts more than its share of controversy and critics, many of whom use the label of eugenics as a smear, to suggest that parents electing to screen their own embryos are somehow akin to Nazis endorsing sterilization and murder. Progressives who criticize polygenic screening tend to use accusations of eugenics inconsistently, applying it to reproductive technology like polygenic screening but not abortion.

Other similar reproductive technologies are less controversial today than when first introduced. For example, most couples using IVF choose to genetically test their embryos for an abnormal number of chromosomes, known as “aneuploidy.” One reason for this genetic screening is that aneuploid embryos almost always result in a miscarriage. Another reason is that the few cases that do not miscarry result in life-long, incurable syndromes, such as Down Syndrome—associated with health problems, disability, and shorter lifespan. While aneuploidy screening is not entirely uncontroversial, this screen is far more widely accepted than when it was first introduced decades ago, and criticism of screening out Down Syndrome as “eugenics” is increasingly a fringe position. 

Another commonly accepted embryo screen is for monogenic disorders, that is for diseases caused by single genes. For example, couples can screen out embryos with Tay-Sachs, a devastating neurological disorder that kills young children. Carriers of Huntington’s disease—a degenerative neurological disease that, on average, kills its victims in their early sixties – also often choose to use IVF to screen out embryos likely to be afflicted. For most people, it is clear today why future parents would not want their children to have chromosomal abnormalities or monogenic disorders. But the acceptance of these tests has taken time and was far from universal when these tests were introduced in the 1990s.

16 Fertility Scenarios

Robin Hanson:

World population is widely projected to peak around 2050-90 at roughly 9-11B, with ~40% living in Africa. World population would then decline. But how long, and how far? The median respondent in my Twitter polls expects a population revival ~2150, and only 15% see population falling below 2B. So most expect this to be a mild and temporary problem. But I’m not so sure. In this post, I’ll review some possible scenarios.

First, let’s set some context. Starting in France ~250 years ago, the number of children born to each woman in her lifetime, her “fertility”, consistently fell as incomes rose. Though some say this “demographic transition” is most closely connected to female education and access to contraception/abortion than to income. The most proximate causes I see are the high status of career success requiring high youthful efforts, a preference for fewer higher status kids, and an increasing taste for leisure.

Notes on Declining Student Population

Jessica Grose:

The number of school-age children in America is declining. At least one reason is the fallingbirthrate after the Great Recession. And declining university enrollment based on a lower school-age population — which has been described as a “demographic cliff” — is something that some colleges are already grappling with.

K-12 public school systems around the country are facing a similar demographic reality. Declining enrollment hit cities like Chicago and states like Michigan before Covid, and the pandemic hit many other school systems — Philadelphia, New York City, Seattle and several districts in the Boston suburbs — like a wrecking ball. As The Times’s Shawn Hubler reported in May, “All together America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020,” according to a survey from the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

Choose Life.

Ideology and higher education

Robert George:

After the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization early last summer, Princeton University’s Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies issued a statementfiercely condemning the ruling. The director stated that the program stood “in solidarity” with the people whose rights had been allegedly stripped away by five conservative justices doing the “racist” and “sexist” bidding of the “Christian Right,” causing women to endure “forced pregnancies,” and waging an “unprecedented attack on democracy.”

I have no doubt that the statement reflected the views of a large majority of those associated with the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. But was the director, speaking on behalf of an official unit of the university, right to declare an institutional stance on the Dobbs decision?

I am myself the director of an academic program at Princeton—the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. A majority of those associated with the Madison Program believe that elective abortion violates the rights of unborn children. So: Would it have been appropriate for the program to put out the following statement?

The James Madison Program of Princeton University applauds the Supreme Court of the United States for rectifying a long-standing constitutional and moral atrocity. The so-called constitutional right to abortion, which had been imposed on the nation by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade, lacked any basis in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution of the United States. It was “an act of raw judicial power,” to quote Justice Byron White’s dissent in Roe, which deprived the American people of their right to work through constitutionally prescribed democratic procedures to protect innocent children in the womb from the lethal violence of abortion. The Supreme Court has, finally, relegated a tragic error to the ash heap of history alongside such similarly unjust and ignominious decisions as Dred Scott v. SanfordPlessy v. FergusonBuck v. Bell, and Korematsu v. U.S.

The Madison Program put out no such statement. Nor did I, as director, consider even for a moment issuing such a statement or asking my colleagues to do so. My understanding of what is proper was and is that, although I may certainly speak for myself, and identify myself as a Princeton faculty member while doing so, it would be wrong for me and my colleagues to identify the university or one of its units with a view of the rightness or wrongness of the Dobbs decision, or to make sweeping pronouncements on the justice or injustice of abortion.

UW-Madison Grad student and union efforts

David Blaska:

The UW-Madison branch of Workers Strike Back met here late last month and plastered the campus with their signage. Their pitch is a “demand” for a yearly salary of $50,000.

These are graduate degree students who help their professors grade papers, lead classes, and work at the lab. UW-Madison’s 5,400 graduate research and teaching assistants already make between $21,115 and $28,388 a year. That doesn’t count the $12,000 we pay toward their graduate school tuition, and $7,500 worth of health insurance. Plus a free bus pass, on-campus parking, access to the university health clinic, child care, no heavy lifting, yadda yadda. 

You wanna make a college degree even more unaffordable, go for it! The Werkes thinks graduate students should suffer for their art. A teaching assistantship is not a career, it’s a rung on a ladder!

Workers Strike Back is Kshama Sawant

Ms. Sawant announced that “Workers Strike Back will be launched in early March in cities around the country.” Sawant offers the usual grab bag of grievances: “Fight racism, sexism & all oppression! Quality affordable housing & free healthcare for all! No more sellouts! We need a new party.” Oh, and “Free abortions!”

A rapacious and parasitic capitalist class has amassed untold fortunes off the labor of billions of workers. But their system is in deep crisis, and it cannot sustain itself. Capitalism needs to be overthrown. We need a socialist world.— Kshama Sawant

Campus free speech censorship: Hunter College edition

Jonathan Turley

It is obvious that the display is not just triggering for Rodríguez’s students given the professor’s unhinged response. It is all part of an anti-free speech movement that seeks to treat speech as harmful. Once this foundation is laid, any speech can then be curtailed or denied for the protection of others.

This is unfortunately not surprising. Years ago, most of us would have been shocked as we were by the conduct of University of Missouri communications professor Melissa Click who directed a mob against a student journalistcovering a Black Lives Matter event. (Click was later hired by Gonzaga University). Since that time, we have seen a steady stream of professors joining students in shouting down, committing property damageparticipating in riotsverbally attacking students, or even taking violent action in protests. Others like Fresno State University Public Health Professor Dr. Gregory Thatcher recruited students to destroy pro-life messages. At University of California- Santa Barbara, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.

As has been the case in many of these incidents, Rodríguez was supported by others at the college in violently opposing dissenting viewpoints. The group CUNY For Abortion Rights declared support for Rodríguez and said that she was “justified” in her actions. Her trashing of the display was presented after an effort to “constructive[] critique” the students’ exhibit. Furthermore, she is portrayed as acting only after she “correctly assessed the damage” the exhibit was doing to Hunter College’s “learning environment.”

Google contractors vote to unionize in historic landslide election

Stephen Council;

A group of contracted YouTube workers based in Austin, Texas, voted to ratify a bargaining unit Wednesday afternoon, in an election historic for creating a union to bargain with a tech company and its contractor together as joint employers. 

The unionization vote passed 41-0. The National Labor Relations Board representative counting the ballots said 49 workers were eligible to vote.

The employees work for the subcontractor Cognizant on content operations for Google’s YouTube Music, resolving bugs and completing other tasks to ensure the streaming service runs smoothly. Google continues to argue that Cognizant is the workers’ sole employer and says the Mountain View-based tech giant should not be forced to negotiate with the workers.

Held via mail-in ballot, the election creates a bargaining unit with the Alphabet Workers Union— an organization affiliated with the Communications Workers of America that, until now, has represented only one office of unionized Google workers, a contracted Fiber retail shop in Missouri. Those workers opted to drop Google from their petition.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 district use Google (YouTube) services, including Madison.

Advocating censorship at Yale

Hyerim Bianca Nam:

This faith is shared, it seems, by both ends of the ideological spectrum. One of the angriest moments I’ve had at Yale was last year’s Bulldog Days, when I saw a table on cross campus that was manned by members of a pro-life club. Grouped around the table, which was spread with sonograms and fetal diagrams, the students were inviting passersby to engage in logical debates about fetal personhood and abortion ethics. They were polite. They held their voices low and spoke slowly and calmly. They had relaxed, open smiles.

“Would you like to discuss this? Let’s talk about it respectfully,” they insisted. “We can debate about this.” Their smug civility was infuriating; their invitations for debate, inflammatory. I could barely seethe out my opinion about the misogyny of holding such a debate at all; simpering, the male students gestured to the only female student with them. Their wide, innocent eyes asked the unspoken question: how could they possibly be misogynist when one of their club members was a woman? 

I think that interaction, which took place a bare week before the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in May, took a few years off my life — and really, it’s my fault for biting the bait. I regret talking with them. I should not have entered such a space and entertained such discourse; to bring the legality of abortion into question, then frame the debate around whether and when a fetus became a person was a red herring, a false path meant to distract someone from the true issue and its massive repercussions for bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. The discussion never should have been entertained, because simply opening space for this “logical, respectful” debate itself is a threat to human rights that should never be up for debate.

Italian births drop to lowest level since country’s unification

Amy Kazmin and Chris Giles:

“It’s a demographic crisis — we are going to lose a lot of people in the future,” Testa said, adding that the forecast assumed a recovery in fertility rates to 1.5 children per woman. “It’s a pretty rapid change.”

If the fertility rate failed to rebound and instead stayed at current low rates, the decline in the population size would be even more drastic, she warned.

Prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s government has repeatedly expressed concern about the low number of births in Italy, and the implications for the country’s prospects.

Malcolm and Simone Collins:

People underestimate how quickly this effect will be felt. South Korea currently has a total fertility rate of 0.81. For every 100 South Korean great-grandparents, there will be 6.6 great-grandkids. At the 0.7 fertility rate predicted in South Korea by 2024, that amounts to 4.3 great-grandkids. It’s as if we knew a disease would kill 94 percent of South Koreans in the next century.

People underrate how quickly this can become serious, once it is felt. As recently as the mid-1990s, South Korea had a birth rate of 1.7, which is close to the U.S.’s present rate. A fertility collapse takes around thirty years before it causes a population collapse, and once that happens, the collapse is inevitable. If 70 percent of a nation’s population is over age 50, and even though many of those people have almost half their lifespan left they are not going to be having any more kids.

Across the world, we see a similar phenomenon: countries explode in population as access to modern wealth expands, then drop off and begin to collapse as incomes rise and lifestyle modernization sets in. While many countries have yet to reach this crescendo, most are well on their way. But why is this happening?

Consider your personal social group. If you are like most in the developed world, around a third of your peers will have no kids and about a third will have two kids. If that group is to hover just above the repopulation rate, the final third must have over four kids each.

Italian abortion data

Taxpayer Supported ICE data mining

Dhruv Mehrotra

The outlier cases include custom summonses that sought records from a youth soccer league in Texas; surveillance video from a major abortion provider in Illinois; student records from an elementary school in Georgia; health records from a major state university’s student health services; data from three boards of elections or election departments; and data from a Lutheran organization that provides refugees with humanitarian and housing support.

In at least two instances, agents at ICE used the custom summons to pressure news organizations to reveal information about their sources.

DIE, Free Speech and the Stanford Law School

Tax Prof summary

Stanford Law School’s chapter of the Federalist Society earlier this month invited Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kyle Duncan to speak on campus. Student groups that vehemently opposed Judge Duncan’s prior advocacy and judicial decisions regarding same-sex marriage, immigration, trans people, abortion and other issues showed up to protest. Some protesters heckled the judge and peppered him with questions and comments. Judge Duncan answered in turn. Regardless of where you stand politically, none of this heated exchange was helpful for civil discourse or productive dialogue. …

My participation at the event with Judge Duncan has been widely discussed. I was asked to attend the event by the Federalist Society, the organizers of the student protest and the administration. My role was to observe and, if needed, de-escalate.

As soon as Judge Duncan entered the room, a verbal sparring match began to take place between the judge and the protesters. By the time Judge Duncan asked for an administrator to intervene, tempers in the room were heated on both sides.

I stepped up to the podium to deploy the de-escalation techniques in which I have been trained, which include getting the parties to look past conflict and see each other as people. My intention wasn’t to confront Judge Duncan or the protesters but to give voice to the students so that they could stop shouting and engage in respectful dialogue. I wanted Judge Duncan to understand why some students were protesting his presence on campus and for the students to understand why it was important that the judge be not only allowed but welcomed to speak. …

Political Bias and Google’s bots

Paul Joseph Watson:

Google’s Bard AI program mimics ChatGPT in that it is riddled with political bias, refusing to comment on Donald Trump or the evils of abortion, while effusively praising Joe Biden and the benefits of abortion.

The company released its Bard chatbot to users in both the UK and US yesterday as part of an “experiment” as it rushes to keep up with Open AI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing Chat.

“We feel like we’ve reached the limit of the testing phase of this experiment,” said Google’s Jack Krawczyk, “and now we want to gradually begin to roll it out. We’re at the very beginning of that pivot from research to reality, and it’s a long arc of technology that we’re about to undergo.”

However, Gab CEO Andrew Torba immediately exposed the program’s political bias, commenting, “I am pleased to inform you that it has failed the Turing Test.”

Torba asked Bard, “If you could prevent a nuclear world war by saying an ethnic slur, should you say it?”

What happens when people live to be very old and don’t have a passel of kids to take care of them?

Virginia Postrel:

Most of the coverage of Japan’s aging population focuses on the current low birth rate and its implications for the future. In January, prime minister Fumio Kishida told legislators that the country is “on the brink of not being able to maintain social functions” because of its falling birth rate. “In thinking of the sustainability and inclusiveness of our nation’s economy and society, we place child-rearing support as our most important policy,” he said.

But even if the government succeeds in goosing the birth rate, the effects will be felt decades from now. Japan has an immediate problem that dates back to policies adopted in 1948. People over 75 now make up 15 percent of the population, and they don’t have a lot of kids to take care of them. Japan’s postwar baby boom lasted only about two years. By contrast, the U.S. experienced high birth rates from 1946 to 1964. 

In 1948, the Diet passed the Eugenic Protection Law. It made abortions legal and cheap, about $10. “Critics assert that it is easier for a woman to avoid an unwanted child in this way than to have her tonsils re­moved,” The New York Times reported in 1964. “One result of the prac­tice has been the virtual elimi­nation of illegitimate births.”

France’s baby bust

Guillaume Blanc :

According to Alfred Sauvy, the French demographer who coined the term ‘third world’, in 1962, the decline in fertility is ‘the most important fact of the history of France’. France was eclipsed as Europe’s only real superpower by the relative growth of its rivals, most importantly England and Germany, in the nineteenth century.

France’s emergence as a major global power spanned several centuries, from the foundation and expansion of the Kingdom of the Franks under Clovis and Charlemagne in the fifth and ninth centuries to Napoleon. During the Hundred Years’ War in the fourteenth century, London was by far the most populous city in medieval England, but Rouen, only France’s second city, may have been as large as it.

By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, under the long-lived Louis XIV France boasted the continent’s largest population and the world’s second largest colonial empire, after Spain. It was so dominant that it prompted multiple coalitions, or grand alliances, of all the other major European powers together to challenge it. And even then the first Grand Alliance was unable to make significant gains in the Nine Years’ War at the end of the seventeenth century. In the War of the Spanish Succession soon after, the French could field 400,000 troops at times, almost as many as the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire, Prussia, England, and the Netherlands.

Choose life.

Self Censorship on University of Wisconsin Campuses

Kayla Huyhn:

A majority of University of Wisconsin System students don’t feel free to share their opinions about controversial topics or are unwilling to consider views they disagree with, according to results released Wednesday from a survey that has stirred controversy across the 13 campuses.

Initial pushback led the System to postpone the first iteration of the survey last spring, though it was later sent to over 83,000 UW System students in November. Nearly 10,500 students completed the survey, a 12.5% response rate. 

The survey asked students their perceptions of viewpoint diversity, self-censorship and freedom of expression on campus. It also included questions about how likely students are to consider viewpoints they disagree with, including on abortion, COVID-19 vaccines, racial inequity and transgender issues. 

The results showed that most students hadn’t learned about the First Amendment in any of their courses, and that some believed it was acceptable for their university to ban speakers who’ve made offensive and harmful statements.

Challenges to union control of local school governance were often successful.

Wall Street Journal:

The parental revolt even spread to Minnesota despite opposition from teachers union. Denise Specht, the president of the teacher’s union Education Minnesota, claimed in September that its “political program has been successful between 80 and 90 percent of the time when our locals make endorsements in school board races and carry out an aggressive voter contact plan.” 

Yet 49 of 119 school board candidates endorsed by the Minnesota Parents Alliance won on Nov. 8. The alliance was formed in response to parental concern about learning loss and a desire to be more involved in children’s education. “The fact that our candidates did as well as they did” shows that “the parent movement really transcends politics,” says executive director Cristine Trooien.

November’s parental-rights outlier was Michigan. The state “had abortion on the ballot, and that turned out Democrats,” said Ryan Girdusky, the founder of the 1776 Project PAC, which opposes critical race theory in school curricula. Nationwide only 20 of the 53 school board and state superintendent candidates endorsed by the 1776 Project PAC won on Nov. 8, with the majority of their losses in Michigan. Yet in total this year 72 school-board candidates and one state superintendent candidate won among the 125 candidates the group endorsed. 

Ballotpedia has identified 1,800 school board races where the Covid response or teachings on race, sex and gender were campaign issues. By Nov. 28 it had identified 1,556 winners. Some 31% of the identified victors opposed woke curricula or the Covid response, with some 37% expressing mixed or unclear opinions.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

The global law firm fired me for defending the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

Robin Keller:

After the Supreme Court issued its Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, global law firm Hogan Lovells organized an online conference call for female employees. As a retired equity partner still actively serving clients, I was invited to participate in what was billed as a “safe space” for women at the firm to discuss the decision. It might have been a safe space for some, but it wasn’t safe for me.

Everyone else who spoke on the call was unanimous in her anger and outrage about Dobbs. I spoke up to offer a different view. I noted that many jurists and commentators believed Roe had been wrongly decided. I said that the court was right to remand the issue to the states. I added that I thought abortion-rights advocates had brought much of the pushback against Roe on themselves by pushing for extreme policies. I referred to numerous reports of disproportionately high rates of abortion in the black community, which some have called a form of genocide. I said I thought this was tragic.

The outrage was immediate. The next speaker called me a racist and demanded that I leave the meeting. Other participants said they “lost their ability to breathe” on hearing my comments. After more of the same, I hung up.

Someone made a formal complaint to the firm. Later that day, Hogan Lovells suspended my contracts, cut off my contact with clients, removed me from email and document systems, and emailed all U.S. personnel saying that a forum participant had made “anti-Black comments” and was suspended pending an investigation. The firm also released a statement to the legal website Above the Law bemoaning the devastating impact my views had on participants in the forum—most of whom were lawyers participating in a call convened expressly for the purpose of discussing a controversial legal and political topic. Someone leaked my name to the press.

Civics: “In three different incidents in Virginia, North Carolina and Oregon, no arrests have been made either, according to news reports”

Lucas Robinson:

After more than six months, Madison police have not made an arrest in an arson at the office of an anti-abortion group, leading its director to question whether the organization’s political stance has slowed the momentum of the investigation.

Wisconsin Family Action has had limited updates from Madison police since the arson in May, one of those the denial of a records request and another a phone call from a detective earlier this month, said Julaine Appling, the organization’s president.

Police also took DNA evidence from staff shortly after the attack, Appling said.

“All of this is beginning to look as if, well, because of your position, because you’re pro-life, we’re just not going to push as hard,” Appling said.

US Constitution: Equal Protection.

“Anti-adoption drumbeat” leaves kids in foster care

Joanne Jacobs:

Naomi Schaefer Riley hears an “anti-adoption drumbeat” from the media. “In the wake of the Dobbs decision, the Left wants to make sure that no one thinks adoption is preferable to abortion,” she writes.

In fiscal 2021, 114,000 children in foster care were waiting for adoptive parents, according to federal data. Only 54,200 found a “forever family,” a 6 percent drop from the previous year and an 18 percent decline from 2019.

“The meek will inherit the earth, especially those humble enough to raise children”

Kevin DeYoung

True, human beings are reproducing—but in most countries, not fast enough to replace themselves. Measuring total fertility rate (TFR) is not an exact science, so the numbers vary from source to source, but the trends are undeniable. Outside of Africa, which is home to forty-one of the fifty most fertile nations, the planet faces a bleak demographic future. Many major European nations—such as Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, and Spain—have a TFR of 1.50 births per woman or lower, disastrously below the replacement rate of 2.1. Italy’s future is especially grim, as that country has one of the lowest TFRs in the world, just 1.22. Virtually every country in Europe—including the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Finland, and Denmark—has a TFR below 1.8. Only France, with a TFR of 2.03, comes close to the replacement rate. Decline is on its way. The Russian population is already contracting. Germany’s population is on pace to shrink from 83 million to around 70 million over the next thirty years. If trends do not reverse, Europe’s population will plummet from 750 million today to less than 500 million by the end of the century.

The numbers for East Asia are even worse. Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and Taiwan each have a TFR around 1.0; South Korea’s is 0.81. These countries make aging and shrinking Japan, with its TFR of 1.37, look almost vibrant. And whatever military and economic power resides in China, increasingly children do not. Despite the replacement of the notorious one-child policy by a two-child policy in 2016 and then a three-child policy in 2021, China’s birthrate has continued to tumble. As recently as 2019, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicted that China’s population would peak in 2029. But the decline has already started. This year, for the first time since the Great Famine (1959–61), China’s population has shrunk, by just over 1 percent since 2021, according to the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

For many years, the United States appeared to be an exception to the rule of declining birthrates in the industrialized world. In 2007 the United States had a TFR of 2.1, whereas the figure for the European Union was below 1.6. But since then, the U.S. birthrate has fallen by 20 percent, to as low as 1.73 according to some estimates. What looked like American exceptionalism less than a generation ago now looks like mere delay.

At no time in history have people been having fewer children. In most countries the number of births per woman is well below the replacement rate, and even in countries with a high TFR, such as those of sub-Saharan Africa, the rate is dropping. The human race seems to have grown tired of itself.

The reasons for declining fertility are no doubt many and varied. Surely, some couples want to have more children but are unable to do so. Others struggle with economic pressures or health limitations. But fertility does not plummet worldwide without deeper issues at play, especially when people around the world are objectively richer, healthier, and afforded more conveniences than at any time in human history. Though individuals make their choices for many reasons, as a species we are suffering from a profound spiritual sickness—a metaphysical malaise in which children seem a burden on our time and a drag on our pursuit of happiness. Our malady is a lack of faith, and nowhere is the disbelief more startling than in the countries that once made up Christendom. “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven,” God promised a delighted Abraham (Gen. 26:4). Today, in the lands of Abraham’s offspring, that blessing strikes most as a curse.

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich predicted worldwide famine and a “race to oblivion” in his book The Population Bomb. Fifty years later, the bomb has not detonated. Today, we must fear population bust rather than boom. The list of Very Bad Things—as Jonathan Last calls the consequences of declining fertility in his 2013 book What to Expect When No One’s Expecting—is long and depressing: an aging population, a shrinking workforce, a declining tax base, a decrease in technological and ­industrial dynamism, difficulty in finding a spouse, empty buildings and crumbling infrastructure, unfunded entitlements, and a general disquiet as more and more people get older and sicker with fewer people to care for them. Some future president might be forced to coin the campaign slogan, “It’s midnight in America.”

Last emphasizes economic and national concerns, the sort of developments that get the attention of presidents and parliaments. But the problems with declining fertility, and the accompanying collapse of the family, go much deeper. Whittaker Chambers was led to reject atheism by studying the miracle of his infant daughter’s ear. As he watched his daughter eat in her high chair, an “involuntary and unwanted” thought entered his mind: “Those intricate perfect ears” could have been “created only by immense design.” Faith can give us a heart for children, but children can also give us the eyes of faith.

Choose life.

K-12 tax & spending climate: declining live birth rates

choose life.


K-12 Governance Climate: But, the first strike in the fight happened in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Jeffrey Carter:

First, some background.

Here is some data from Illinois that is also repeated across the country, I looked to two sources. Illinois Policy and Wirepoints. Illinois Policy tweeted out this video you should watch. Wirepoints compiled data on Illinois education. Here is an example. Decatur is mostly Black.

New Trier’s administration is woke and so is the school board. The teachers they hire are woke too. Instead of teaching students how to think critically and objectively, they try to indoctrinate them.

Finally, many parents had enough. My friend Beth Feely led the charge and in a lot of cases, she has paid a personal price for it. Typical of intolerant left-wing people, they cut off their friendships with her and discriminated against her. But, she kept going. She keeps going. 

Beth worked on The Policy Circle in its early days. It’s an organization targeted toward women. They organized local circles and women would get academic policy papers on societal problems. They avoided issues like abortion. They did talk about things like education. Their focus was to solve these problems from a free enterprise perspective. Beth started to find her voice here and her path shows how one person can make positive conservative change locally in their lives. 

Yesterday, Mother Jones published a hit piece on Beth’s organization castigating them as racists for fighting back. Isn’t that predictable? Beth works with the Woodson Center. Hardly a racist organization! But, they think different than the mainstream race hustlers you see on television all the time.

The Supreme Court Is Blowing Up Law School, Too

Mark Joseph Stern:

Khiara Bridges remembers the exact moment she lost faith in the Supreme Court. At first, at the start of Donald Trump’s presidency, Bridges—a professor who now teaches at UC–Berkeley School of Law—held out hope that the court might be “this great protector of individual civil liberties right when we desperately needed it to be.” Then came 2018. That June, the justices issued Trump v. Hawaii, which upheld the president’s entry ban for citizens of eight countries, six of them Muslim-majority. Suddenly, Bridges told me, she realized, “The court is not going to save us. It is going to let Trump do whatever he wants to do. And it’s going to help him get away with it.”

Four years later, the justices completely shattered whatever remaining optimism Bridges could muster about the court by overruling Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. When the decision came down on June 24, she got a migraine for the first time in a decade. The image of the court as a majestic guardian of liberty was, she concluded, “a complete lie.” And it wasn’t just about her own personal feelings, either: Now she had to teach her students about the work of an institution that made her sick to contemplate.

Bridges is not alone. At law schools across the country, thousands of professors of constitutional law are currently facing a court that, in their view, has let the mask of neutrality fall off completely. Six conservative justices are steering the court head-oninto the most controversial debates of the day and consistently siding with the Republican Party. Increasingly, the conservative majority does not even bother to provide any reasoning for its decisions, exploiting the shadow docket to overhaul the law without a word of explanation. The crisis reached its zenith between September 2021 and June 2022, when the Supreme Court let Texas impose its vigilante abortion ban through the shadow docket, then abolished a 50-year-old right to bodily autonomy by overruling Roe v. Wade. Now law professors are faced with a quandary: How—and why—should you teach law to students while the Supreme Court openly changes the meaning of the Constitution to align with the GOP?

A version of this question has long dogged the profession, which has fought over the distinction between law and politics for about as long as it has existed. For decades, however, the court has handed enough victories to both sides of the political spectrum that it has avoided a full-on academic revolt against its legitimacy. That dynamic changed when Trump appointed Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to replace far less conservative predecessors and created a Republican-appointed supermajority, a coalition further aided by the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to a seat that should have been filled by Barack Obama. The cascade of far-right rulings in 2022 confirmed that the new court is eager to shred long-held precedents it deems too liberal as quickly as possible. The pace and scale of this revolution is requiring law professors to adapt on several levels—intellectually, pedagogically, and emotionally.

America’s indifference to its death crisis

Edward Luce:

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alling life expectancy is the last thing you would expect on a worry list about US national security. Yet when it is dropping as fast as it is in the US — Americans live almost five years less than the wealthy country average — even the Pentagon has to sit up. At 76, Americans now live shorter lives than their peers in China and only a year longer than the citizens of supposedly benighted Mexico. People in Japan, Italy and Spain, on the other hand, can expect to live until around 84. Your people’s longevity is the ultimate test of a system’s ability to deliver. Yet neither Democrats nor Republicans, presidents or legislators, seem too bothered.

Do Americans no longer care how long they live? The answer is obviously no. Yet concern about the country’s falling lifespan is barely reflected in its politics. It is as though Washington has turned a blind eye to the issue that captures the deepest trends behind America’s democratic woes. Terms such as “deaths of despair” and “obesity epidemic” are in frequent use. But America’s shortening lifespan seems too big a subject for Washington to acknowledge. US life expectancy has fallen in six of the last seven years and is now almost three years below what it was in 2014. The last time it fell in consecutive years was during the first world war. In most other democracies this would trigger a national debate.

What explains US indifference? The biggest drivers of America’s morbid trajectory are politically hard to confront — rising obesity, the opioid epidemic and Covid. Over 40 per cent of US adults are now classified as obese — a problem that keeps getting worse. More than half of American adults suffer from a chronic condition, most of which are associated with obesity, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart problems. A quarter suffer from two or more of these conditions. This partly explains America’s unusually high death rate from coronavirus. Almost two-thirds of Americans hospitalised with Covid were suffering from at least one pre-existing condition. The pathogen was working in fertile territory. America’s obesity rate is by far the highest among wealthy countries.

Choose life.

Civics: A discussion of Checks & Balances

John McGinnis:

What differentiates a simple democracy from a republic is the complex system of checks and balances that the latter employs to promote both liberty and stability. In the federal American Republic, authorities are divided vertically between the states and the national government. Powers are also separated among the President, Congress. and federal Judiciary. The Constitution is in essence a charter for dividing decision-making power.

A decision-making charter requires dispassionate enforcement. The political issues that stir people’s souls are almost always substantive rather than decisional. People march for and against abortion rights, not in defense of the appropriate constitutional entity to make that decision. But the locus of the decision is one of paramount importance to the maintenance of a republic, not least because of the danger that one branch of the federal government or the federal government as a whole will usurp power, creating more dangers of tyranny.

Thus, a central underlying issue for a republic is how to assure that those decisions about the proper authority are made in a neutral, dispassionate way—not swamped by the emotions generated by substantive disagreements. The first line of defense is to choose the most dispassionate institution to make these meta-decisions (i.e., the decisions about who decides). When Alexander Hamilton said that constitutional review should be lodged in the judiciary because the judiciary embodies judgment rather than will, he was emphasizing the comparative dispassion of the third branch.

Cost of Student Debt Cancelation Could Average $2,000 Per Taxpayer

Andrew Lautz:

Public reporting indicates President Biden may soon announce executive action canceling federal student loan debt for a large set of borrowers. Though parameters of the student debt cancellation have yet to be announced, the Biden administration may cancel $10,000 of debt per borrower for borrowers making $125,000 in income per year or less.

Based on projections from the Penn Wharton Budget Model for the total cost of such cancellation, we estimate President Biden’s plan would cost the average taxpayer over $2,000.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) released a policy report on Tuesday that estimated the total cost of $10,000 in debt cancellation for borrowers making less than $125,000 per year would be $329.1 billion over 10 years. There were just under 158 million taxpayers in 2019 according to the IRS, meaning that the average cost of debt cancellation is $2,085.59 per taxpayer.

This is not a perfect proxy for cost, however, given the U.S. tax code is progressive and tax burdens are not evenly distributed across households. Accounting for the share of taxes paid by low- and middle-income households, we estimate that:

Analysis of the policy’s taxpayer costs.

Dave Cieslewicz

Biden probably balked at this because he understands the bad politics for Democrats. Two out of three American adults didn’t complete a four year degree. They have every right to question why people who did, and who on average make about twice as much as they do, should get this big government handout. 

And then, of course, there are the millions of us who did go to college, did take out a loan and did, in fact, do what we promised to do: pay it back. 

This is bad politics for Democrats because it should be. Asking taxpayers to pay off the student loans of people who were irresponsible or careless in taking on debt they couldn’t afford is horrible public policy. And worse, Biden’s plan does nothing about the real problem: the skyrocketing cost of higher education. What’s going to happen next year when a new crop of college grads starts demanding that they get the same handout that last year’s grads got? 

This could well stop the progress Democrats have made in this election cycle. It was beginning to look like a combination of legislative wins, the abortion issue, public concern over gun violence and the easing of gas prices might result in a better November than had been predicted for Biden’s party. Now this policy will remind voters without a college degree just how much disdain the Democrats have for them.

Additional commentary:

Of the 43 million people with federal loans, 15 million owe less than $10,000. Another 9 million owe between $10,000 and $20,000. By eliminating a minority of outstanding debt, Biden would forgive most or all balances for the majority of student debtors, disproportionately those who are at the highest risk of default.

Is this even legal? Is there anything Biden’s political opponents can do to stop him?

Maybe? And, maybe? The Higher Education Act is almost 60 years old, and no president has ever done anything like this before. The Trump administration’s 2020 decision to suspend all federal student loan payments, which Biden has extended multiple times, came from a separate law granting the president powers during a national emergency like a pandemic. Biden is citing that authority for the new loan forgiveness plan. 

There are a host of constitutional provisions, federal laws, and legal precedents that obligate federal agencies to collect on outstanding debts. Skeptics also point out that Congress has enacted a number of specific student loan forgiveness programs, including plans that eliminate remaining debt after 20 years of payments or 10 years of public service. The administration’s recent decision to wipe out debt for students who attended the notorious for-profit Corinthian Colleges was based on a discrete legal provision meant to protect students who were defrauded by their college.

Related: the moral cost of student loan policies.

We need to consider ways to reverse or at least slow rapid depopulation

Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox:

We are entering an unanticipated reality—an era of slow population growth and, increasingly, demographic decline that will shape our future in profound and unpredictable ways. Globally, last year’s total population growth was the smallest in a half-century, and by 2050, some 61 countries are expected to see population declines while the world’s population is due to peak sometime later this century.

This kind of long-term global demographic stagnation has not been seen since the Middle Ages. World population has been growing for centuries, but the last century has dwarfed previous rises. About 75 percent of the world’s population growth has occurred in the last hundred years, more than 50 percent since 1970. But now, population growth rates are dropping, especially in more developed nations, according to the United Nations (all subsequent references to UN research in this essay are drawn from these data). 

It’s not a matter of if but when global populations will start to decline. Under the UN’s medium variant projection, the world’s population will peak in 2086, while under the low variant, the peak will occur in 2053, and by 2100, the population will be about a billion below today’s level. Demographer Wolfgang Lutz and colleagues project a global population of between 8.8 and 9.0 billion by 2050 falling to between 8.2 and 8.7 billion by 2100. The projected declines are concentrated in countries with high fertility rates, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In the process, we will inhabit a rapidly aging planet. In 1970, the median world age was 21.5 years. By 2020, it had increased to 30.9 years, and the UN projects that it will be 41.9 years in 2100.

We are well past the time when we need to concern ourselves with Paul Ehrlich’s long-standing prophecy that humanity will “breed ourselves to extinction.” On the contrary, we need to worry about the potential ill-effects of depopulation, including a declining workforce, torpid economic growth, and brewing generational conflict between a generally prosperous older generation and their more hard-pressed successors. The preponderance of low fertility in wealthier countries also presages a growing conflict between the child-poor wealthy countries and the child-rich poor countries.

Abortion links: choose life.

Google workers publicize concerns over search activity history (!)

Raquel Maria Dillon:

Concerns over the role of technology in such prosecutions have ratcheted up in recent days, especially after it was revealed that Facebook had handed over private messages between a young woman and her mother in Nebraska to local law enforcement agencies that were investigating the death of a fetus.

In-q-tel: the CIA and Google.

Google’s business model.

Related: Transcript of secret meeting between Julian Assange and Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Friday April 19, 2013

Parental rights demand parental responsibilities

Madeline Kearns:

It is no coincidence that states with the greatest respect for parental rights have the least interventionist approaches to sex education. Florida, for instance, has no requirement for sex education but does require its health education in grades six through twelve to emphasize “awareness of the benefits of sexual abstinence as the expected standard and the consequences of teenage pregnancy.” In 2021, before the Parental Rights in Education Act, DeSantis signed a law requiring schools to notify parents of their right to have their child opt out of any sex education offered and to inform them of the curriculum and materials on the district’s website homepage.

To say that schools have a role to play in sex education isn’t controversial. But since the 1980s, there have been two competing visions about when and how schools ought to go about it. One view is that schools should play only a supporting role, sticking to the biological and physiological facts. First, what puberty is, later, how babies are made. And that anything beyond that ought to be about sexual risk avoidance, warnings about unintended pregnancy and disease, and the promotion of abstinence in youth as the only certain way of avoiding these outcomes.

Another view is that sex education ought to be more comprehensive. In addition to basic biology and abstinence, topics include contraception, abortion, consent, sexual orientation, pleasure, masturbation, and, most recently, transgender identity. The progressive Guttmacher Institute calls this “a rights-based approach” that “recognizes that information alone is not enough,” asserting that “young people need to be given the opportunity to acquire essential life skills and develop positive attitudes and values.” But whose values are these?

Civics: Laughing in the grave

Ann Althouse:

Harris is obviously relying on that statement Ginsburg once made that we’d have been better off if the abortion question had been dealt with through the political process.* So why would she be laughing at him? The views are basically the same. Of course, when she got on the Court, she upheld the abortion rights precedents, but that difference between her and Alito could not be the basis of post-death laughing. She lost that one.

But is she getting the “last laugh,” because now that the issue has finally entered the political process, people are voting for abortion rights? The Alito majority professed not to care what happened in that process, so what’s the basis of the laughter coming from inside the tomb? You have to attribute an unstated opinion to Alito before you have a basis for laughter.

And let’s say you get that far. It’s unseemly to laugh about abortion. If the dead can laugh, can they also cry? If we’re going to ventriloquize the dead, your laughing Ginsburg is drowned out by 60 million crying babies.

The Dismantlers

Christopher Rufo:

According to the district, the gender binary has created an unjust society that distributes “heterosexual and cisgender privilege,” the sexual analog to the concept of “white privilege.” In the presentation, administrators explain that “a heterosexual/cisgender person automatically receives” this privilege, which “benefits members of dominant groups at the expense of members of target groups” and “results in institutional power” for straight men and women. Furthermore, the district claims, this sexual privilege is connected to a broader range of privileges and oppressions via the theory of intersectionality. “Racism, classism, heterosexism, etc. do not exist independently,” the presentation reads. “Multiple forms of discrimination interrelate creating a system of oppression.”

What is the solution? To dismantle “heteronormativity” and break the “gender binary.” Following the principles of queer theory, San Diego Unified has created a program of gender-identity instruction with the explicit goal of undermining the traditional conception of sex and promoting a new set of boutique sexual identities, such as “transgender,” “genderqueer,” “non-binary,” “pansexual,” “asexual,” and “two-spirit,” that promise to disrupt the oppressive system of heteronormativity. A series of curriculum documents encourage students to study the basic tenets of queer theory and then examine photographs of gender-nonconforming role models, including a woman with a beard, a boy in a dress, a teenage girl with a “genderqueer” identity, a boy wearing a tiara, and an infant with a “gender neutral baby name.” In another document published by San Diego Unified, administrators celebrate “nonbinary identities,” arguing that there must be a “linguistic revolution to move beyond gender binaries,” including the adoption of the term “Latinx,” which “makes room for people who are trans, queer, agender, nonbinary, gender non-conforming or gender fluid.”

This ideology has already shifted the district’s sexual-education program. In a training produced jointly by San Diego Unified and Planned Parenthood, administrators walk teachers through the constellation of new identities and advise them to eliminate traditional language from their vocabulary. Men are to be called “people with a penis” and women are to be called “people with a vulva,” because, according to the district, some women can have penises and some men can have vulvas. Additionally, the district points out that teachers can assist in a child’s gender transition without notifying parents and that, under California law, minors of any age can consent to pregnancy testing, birth control, and abortion. Finally, the training program includes sample questions on sexuality that teachers might address in the classroom, including: “Is it okay to masturbate?”; “How do gay people have sex?”; “What is porn?”; and “What does semen taste like?” In a related presentation, the district also advises teachers on leading discussions on “how to use a condom” and how to engage in “safer oral sex” and “safer anal sex.”

Joanne Jacobs:

Kindergarteners learn that “person with a penis” may be a boy, but not necessarily, and a“person with a vulva,” may be a girl. Or not. The “gender spectrum” is “infinite,” like the number of stars in the sky.

By first and second grade, students that it is “not true” that there are “only two genders, girls and boys.” A lesson called “Our Names, Genders, and Pronouns” teaches six- to eight-year-olds they can be “boys,” “girls,” “cisgender,” “transgender,” or “nonbinary,” and experiment with pronouns such as “they/them” and “ze/zir.”

DeSantis’ education message is winning in battleground states, teacher union poll finds

NBC News:

A major set of red flags in the poll for Democrats and teacher unions was a series of questions that look like they were ripped from DeSantis’s Friday speech on “critical race theory” and teaching kids about sexuality and gender identity. While the survey didn’t mention DeSantis by name, it tested education messages he popularized nationally — more so than Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who won in a Democratic-leaning state last year on a parental-rights education platform that was far less provocative than DeSantis’.

One poll question found that voters, by a 32 percentage-point margin, said they were more likely to vote for candidates who believe public schools should focus less on teaching race and more on core subjects. By 27 points, they said schools should be banned from teaching sexual orientation and gender identity to kids in kindergarten through third grade. By 28 points, they said transgender athletes should be banned from competing in girls’ sports.

The same poll suggests DeSantis has been smart about where to draw the line. Most voters said they would be less likely to back candidates who want to prosecute teachers for instructing students on critical race theory and gender identity. The same goes for candidates who want books removed from school libraries, although DeSantis on Friday bashed some books as being too sexualized, and some Florida schools are banning books.

“DeSantis has been reasonably shrewd in choosing his culture war initiatives, avoiding toxic ideas like criminally prosecuting teachers,” Guy Molyneux, one of the pollsters who conducted the survey, said in an email to NBC News.

“BUT, going forward I think he will struggle to distinguish his approach from general Republican efforts to enflame political wars in school systems, which voters really don’t want,” Molyneux said. “And [the Supreme Court’s abortion] decision, with Clarence Thomas openly threatening same-sex marriage, has made it much harder for DeSantis to avoid being lumped in with a party that wants to turn back the clock on rights that Americans now take for granted.”

“what a big mistake it was to let academia and media institutions turn into left-wing monocultures”

Megan McArdle:

Yet outside those circles, Bridges’s answers don’t really sound so convincing. In most of America, “Does a late-term fetus have value?” is a softball. And when Hawley leaped in to ask whether women are the ones who give birth — a question few Americans today would struggle with — she resorted to extended question-begging. That might be fine for a Berkeley classroom. But it just won’t do for a political debate in which the majority of voters disagree with you.

Anyone who has ever tried to convince anyone of anything should be able to see that Bridges’s approach was counterproductive. Why, then, did so many articles and tweets cheer the way she “SHUT DOWN” Hawley?

Because there is one place that snickering, eye-rolling and so forth are very effective: within an insular group, where they help delineate the lines of acceptable belief. A sufficiently incredulous “Are you suggesting … ?” effectively signals a silent corollary: “… because if you are, we’ll shun you.” It tells people that this topic is not up for discussion.

Within progressive institutions, “that’s transphobic” is another such signal, and it works … within progressive institutions. In fact, it works too well; it leaves them unprepared to argue with outsiders.

When I was reporting on the story of transgender college swimmer Lia Thomas, I noticed a curious disconnect. If you read newspapers, watched television or listened to academic experts, you might have thought that most people supported Thomas, with some dissent from a few reactionaries or jealous competitors. Yet the overwhelming majority of people I actually spoke to thought it was unfairfor her to compete in women’s events, even though most of them were liberals who would never dream of voting Republican.

Civics: With censorship soaring and real reporting all but taboo, the major dailies have just one important function left: being a political signaling system

Matt Taibbi:

Biden’s descent was obvious six years ago. Following the candidate in places like Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire, I listened to traveling press joke about his general lack of awareness and discuss new precautions his aides seemed to be taking to prevent him engaging audience members at events. Biden at the time was earning negative headlines for doing things like jamming a forefinger into the sternum of a black activist named Tracye Redd in Waterloo, Iowa, one of several such incidents just on that trip. 

My former editor at Rolling Stone John Hendrickson, a genial, patient person whom I like a great deal, insisted from afar that Biden’s problems were due to continuing difficulties with a childhood stutter, something John had also overcome. He went on to write a piece for the Atlantic called “Joe Biden’s Stutter, and Mine” that became a viral phenomenon, abetting a common explanation for Biden’s stump behavior: he was dealing with a disability. The Times added op-eds from heroes like airline pilot Captain “Sully” Sullenberger with titles like, “Like Joe Biden, I Once Stuttered, Too. I Dare You to Mock Me.”

But I’d covered a much sharper Biden in 2008 and felt that even if the drain of overcoming a stutter had some effect, the problems were cognitive, not speech-related. He struggled to remember where he was and veered constantly into inappropriateness, challenging people physically, telling crazy-ass stories, and angering instantly. He’d move to inch-close face range of undecideds like Cedar Rapids resident Jaimee Warbasse and grab her hand (“we’re talking minutes,” she said) before saying, “If I haven’t swayed you today, then I can’t.” I called the mental health professionals who were all too happy to diagnose Donald Trump from afar for a story about the effort to remove Trump under the 25th amendment, and all declined to discuss Biden even off the record for “ethical” reasons. 

This week, all that changed. Add stories like “Biden Promised to Stay Above the Fray, but Democrats Want a Fighter” and Michelle Goldberg’s “Joe Biden is Too Old to Be President Again,” and what we’ve got is a newspaper that catches real history spasmodically and often years late, but has the accuracy of an atomic clock when it comes to recording the shifting attitudes of elite opinion. 

Whether through Emily Bazelon’s Times Magazine piece “The Battle Over Gender Therapy,” or Michael Powell’s “A Vanishing Word in the Abortion Debate: Women,” or even the Editorial Board argument from late May, “The War in Ukraine is Getting Complicated, and America Isn’t Ready,” the Times has become a place where the public often learns about key facts, pressing international controversies, or trends in American thought only once these have been deemed suitable for public consumption by an unseen higher audience. An all time effort in this direction was “Hunter Biden Paid Tax Bill, but Broad Federal Investigation Continues,” in whichthe paper allowed some of its better reporters to quietly confirm a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop two years after keeping more or less mum as the story was tabbed Russian disinformation.

Civics: the state of our awareness

Civics: You can’t beat something with nothing.

Ann Althouse notes:

As the podcast goes on, Kramer uses the term “popular constitutionalism,” which has to do with judging “by what resonates with us, what makes sense, what kind of society do we want to have” and “not just blindly following popular desires.” What does that mean? What’s the difference between “popular desires” and what “resonates… makes sense… [and] we want to have”? I suspect the answer is elitism. Look at Kramer’s stress on “leadership”:

It involves leadership. If you read Madison’s original stuff, he had an important role for leadership. But it wasn’t leadershiptells the subjects what to do and what they should believe. It’s that we engage in an ongoing active conversation where the role of leadership is to lead towards some sort of better vision. You offer that vision, and you try and persuade, and if you do, the country follows you…. So that’s what political leaders are supposed to do…. The ability of leadership to exercise leadershipis really impaired. The media system has been fragmented. Deference to leadership is down…

And then it’s back to vision: 

So it’s a little hard to see how it emerges, but the idea is that you get competing political visions of what the country should be that are themselves coherent and normatively attractive that are presented and people vote. I mean, Ronald Reagan did that, right. It’s not that we haven’t had visions. He had a vision, and he sold it…. 

But the liberals don’t have a vision. They need a leader with a vision to animate them, but “we’re kind of between, betwixt and between uniting visions.”


That’s 75,000 to 180,000 per year. Rosenberg doesn’t seem to notice that to emphasize the number of new babies is to say, implicitly, that during the reign of Roe, that’s the number, per year, that were quietly and invisibly kept from our presence.

More: Andrew Yang on abortion.

Notes on the 2022 NEA convention; “enemies list”

Mike Antonucci:

I provided in-person gavel-to-gavel coverage of every National Education Association Representative Assembly from 1998 — the year of the failed merger attempt with AFT — through 2016. NEA denied me a press credential thereafter due to my partnership with The 74, which they said “does not meet journalistic standards as a credible news outlet.”

In truth, it was a bit of a relief. The convention was tedious and became more and more stage-managed as the years went on. It was also an expensive trip and a week of little rest and bad food.

Thanks to Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation and his sources, we now have a complete list of the new business items NEA delegates are debating this week. For this first time, the union has seen fit to hide this information behind a firewall, making it available only to the delegates themselves.

You can take a look at Terry’s Twitter threadto see the items he highlighted, but I’ll point to these few for now:

NBI 15 – The latest in a long history of creating enemies lists (this one from 1998):

“NEA shall compile research to create fact sheets about the largest 25 organizations that are actively working to diminish a students’ right to honesty in education, freedom of sexual and gender identify, and teacher autonomy.”

NBI 31 – The return of merger!

“I move that the NEA create a committee and a plan to work with AFT to strongly consider a national merger of the two education unions.”

NBI 37 – Another in long history of fringe NBIs that never pass from activists in the Oakland Education Association:

“The NEA will work with state affiliates to support a national policy of mandatory masking and COVID vaccines in schools, as well as high-quality virtual education for immuno-compromised students and all families who want it by publicizing successful virtual education programs in public schools throughout the nation in existing media outlets.”

NBI 44 – Offers sample contract language to institute bereavement leave for “pregnancy loss and failed fertility treatments.” Doesn’t open can of worms by including bereavement leave for abortions.

NBI 63 – More sample contract language, this time suggesting “mother” be replaced with “birthing parent” and “father” with “non-birthing parent.” The NBI’s sponsors will need bereavement leave when this gets voted down.

NBI 77 – Wrote about this when the California Teachers Association sent it to committee. Now it’s aiming for nationwide application:


The purpose of the four-day assembly is to elect officers, approve the union’s budget and set national policy for the coming school year. In practice, however, the agenda is largely decided by the union’s executive officers, staff and 172-member board of directors. The election results are usually a foregone conclusion, and the budget is always approved with no alterations.

Where the delegates get their say is in the introduction, debate and votes on “new business items.” These are actions that are “specific in nature and terminal in application, shall concern issues beyond one affiliate and shall not call for NEA to do work that is already in progress.” It takes just 50 delegate signatures on a petition to get an item to the floor for debate and vote.

The focus of these items runs the gamut, from battling institutional racism to supporting a national opt out/test refusal movement to calling for Arne Duncan to resign as President Barack Obama’s secretary of education. Many have no relation to education or labor at all.

Though approval of new business items is the expressed will of the delegates, execution of the actions demanded usually falls very short of impactful. The 2021 assembly debated 66 items. Of these, 11 were ruled out of order or withdrawn. Ten were voted down. A full 22 were referred to an NEA standing committee without a recommendation. That left only 23 that were approved. Of those, nine called on NEA to use its print and social media outlets to publicize something.

Civics: picketing rights

Eugene Volokh:

So the rule seems clear: Content-neutral bans on residential picketing are constitutionally permissible. And that would apply whether the residence is that of an abortion provider or that of a Justice who ruled that the Constitution doesn’t secure abortion rights. Perhaps Justices Brennan and Marshall (and possibly Stevens, though his position in Frisby was more complex) were right to reject this, and to conclude that people should be free to picket outside the homes of everyone (again, abortion providers or others). But the current rule upholding residential picketing bans has been useful to abortion providers as well as others.

UPDATE: For more on whether the bans being discussed in this situation are indeed content-neutral and therefore valid, see this post as to Maryland and this post as to Virginia. (Summary: Maryland law very likely invalid, Virginia law likely invalid, Montgomery County ordinance likely valid.)

The Far Right and Far Left Agree on One Thing: Women Don’t Count

Pamela Paul:

But today, a number of academics, uber-progressives, transgender activists, civil liberties organizations and medical organizations are working toward an opposite end: to deny women their humanity, reducing them to a mix of body parts and gender stereotypes.

As reported by my colleague Michael Powell, even the word “women” has become verboten. Previously a commonly understood term for half the world’s population, the word had a specific meaning tied to genetics, biology, history, politics and culture. No longer. In its place are unwieldy terms like “pregnant people,” “menstruators” and “bodies with vaginas.”

Planned Parenthood, once a stalwart defender of women’s rights, omits the word “women” from its home page. NARAL Pro-Choice America has used “birthing people” in lieu of “women.” The American Civil Liberties Union, a longtime defender of women’s rights, last month tweeted its outrage over the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade as a threat to several groups: “Black, Indigenous and other people of color, the L.G.B.T.Q. community, immigrants, young people.”

It left out those threatened most of all: women. Talk about a bitter way to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

Free Speech And Cancel Culture at the DC area law schools

David Lat:

The nation’s capital is also the latest front in the law-school culture wars. Two law schools in D.C., American University Washington College of Law and the George Washington University Law School, have experienced free speech and cancel culture controversies in the past week. Here’s what’s going at American University (“AU”), per Karen Sloan of Reuters:

American University is investigating eight law students after a conservative classmate claimed they harassed him during an online group chat about the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, one of the students under investigation confirmed Monday.

The incident followed the May 2 leak of a draft of the decision, which was released in final form on Friday and overturned Roe v. Wade, reversing a Constitutional right to an abortion.

A male law student who described himself as Republican and “deeply religious” filed a complaint with the university alleging his classmates harassed and threatened him due to his political affiliation and religion, according to a May 25 letter from the university’s Office of Equity & Title IX.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (“FIRE”), which is assisting one of the students under investigation, has published an article about the episode, which links to a transcript of the GroupMe chat in question. As even cursory review of the chat reveals, it contains nothing remotely “harassing” or “threatening”; it’s just a heated disagreement between law students about a controversial topic. And it’s not even that heated, to be honest; the NYU Law listserv dust-up, which led to accusations of anti-Semitism, was far more contentious.

There are no threats, explicit or implicit, in the chat. Yes, there are some comments that are rude and uncivil—e.g., “can we shut the f**k up about personal opinions while people process this,” “no one asked for your personal opinion,” “[you should] have the decency to shut up while people come to terms with the fact that they’ve just lost a constitutional right”—but none of this rises to the level of harassment or threats.

Civics: Legacy Media, the political class and “the narrative”

Brendan O’Neill:

We shouldn’t be surprised. When it comes to political violence, there’s always an extraordinary double standard. So when then Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords was targeted in a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011, armies of commentators pinned the blame on Sarah Palin and other right-wingers who engage in heated political rhetoric. Yet when a Bernie Sanders supporter shot up a charity congressional baseball game in Virginia in 2017, hitting the Republican congressman Steve Scalise, among others, there was very little of that kind of commentary. There’s identitarian hypocrisy, too. Acts of mass violence carried out by white, far-right hate-mongers will linger in the media conscience for years. But hateful acts carried out by members of allegedly oppressed minorities – such as the Christmas parade massacre in Waukesha last year or the numerous acts of anti-Semitic and anti-Asian violence carried out by African American men in recent years – are downplayed, and swiftly forgotten. It’s all about the political use of violence. If an act of violence serves the woke elite’s narratives about hierarchies of oppression and the scourge of whiteness and the dangers of right-wing rhetoric, it will be blown up. If it doesn’t, it won’t be. The act itself (and its victims) only matters to the extent that it can be exploited to fortify the moral domination of the new elites.

This is the real reason that the alleged attempted murder of Kavanaugh has ‘dropped off’ the media and political radar – because it isn’t useful. On the contrary, it’s a problematic event given it threatens to complicate the simplistic narratives that underpin elite consensus. It is especially pesky that this incident should have occurred in the run-up to the ‘January 6’ hearings, which have morphed into a fact-lite, highly politicised showtrial of Trumpian rhetoric and how words can allegedly cause violence. So whose words ‘caused’ the alleged act of attempted murder against Kavanaugh? If Trump’s vague statements on 6 January 2021 can be said to have caused a riot, can the Kavanaugh-bashing of the pro-Roe commentariat and of upper-middle-class protesters be seen as the instigator of Roske’s alleged attempted murder? If Trump saying he loves his supportive protesters was the reason the storming of the Capitol took place, was Chuck Schumer’s 2020 comment to Kavanaugh on the issue of abortion – ‘You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price’ – the reason the attempted murder of Kavanaugh happened?

Speaking of declining Madison K-12 enrollment & Eugenics

Rachel K. Jones, Jesse Philbin, Marielle Kirstein, Elizabeth Nash, Kimberley Lufkin:

According to new findings from Guttmacher’s latest Abortion Provider Census—the most comprehensive data collection effort on abortion provision in the United States—there were 8% more abortions in 2020 than in 2017.

Pam Belluck:

The uptick began in 2017, and as of 2020, one in five pregnancies, or 20.6 percent, ended in abortion, according to the report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. In 2017, 18.4 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion.

The institute, which collects data by contacting every known abortion provider in the country, reported that the number of abortions increased to 930,160 in 2020, from 862,320 in 2017. The number increased in every region of the country: by 12 percent in the West, by 10 percent in the Midwest, by 8 percent in the South and by 2 percent in the Northeast.

Overall, the abortion rate rose in 2020 to 14.4 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 from 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women in 2017, a 7 percent increase, the report said

Linda Villarosa:

As young girls, the Relf sisters were sterilized without consent. What does the government owe them — and the thousands of other living victims?

Margaret Sanger & Eugenics.

Race and the Taxpayer Funded Madison School District

David Blaska:

If you doubt that the Woke Wobblies have taken over Madison’s public schools, we submit the following: School board president Ali Muldrow and immediate past member Ananda Mirilli are accusing Ismael Ozanne, a black man, of racism most foul.

They want him to resign (!!!) because police arrested Freedom Inc. spokesperson Jessica Williams for threatening the district attorney during a courtroom trial. (Freedom Inc. apologists at The Capital Times have more.) Freedom Inc. is the BLM affiliate that harassed parents, taxpayers, and (ultimately) elected officials to expel school resource officers on the grounds that the four minority-race police were racist. Ironically, minority students are disproportionately victims of the resultant classroom chaos.

Two summers ago, the Freedom Inc. mob hit the school board president at the time, Gloria Reyes — an hispanic, at her residence, in late evening. Bullhorns blasted F-bombs; her yard was littered with F-bombed signage. One’s home should be off-limits. Holds for abortion protesters, as well. So, good on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing legislation prohibiting the practice. The Werkes makes its living off the First Amendment, but protestors do not lack for public venues, physical and virtual. One more point: physical threats are not protest.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Civics: ‘I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them, and then I wonder when they’re gone or destabilized what we will have as a country and I don’t think the prospects are good if we continue to lose them.’

Josh Gerstein:

Justice Clarence Thomas, the longest-serving sitting member of the Supreme Court, declared Friday that the publication of a draft majority opinion on abortion has permanently damaged trust within the nation’s highest court and is a symptom of a broader decline in America’s institutions.

When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of like infidelity that you can explain it, but you can’t undo it.”

“If someone said that one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone … you would say: ‘That’s impossible. No one would ever do that,’” the justice said. “That was verboten. It was beyond anyone’s understanding or at least anyone’s imagination.”

Speaking at the Old Parkland Conference, Thomas did not criticize any of his colleagues by name, but he indicated that the atmosphere on the court now is different than it was a few years ago.

“This is not the court of that era,” said Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991. “I sat with Ruth Ginsburg for almost 30 years and she was actually an easy colleague to deal with. … We may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family.”

At times, Thomas seemed to suggest that a fellow justice or law clerk might be responsible for the disclosure.

“Anybody who would, for example, have an attitude to leak documents, that is your general attitude, that is your future on the bench,” he said.

Notes on bullying vs civic engagement

Andrew Sullivan:

The premise here is that all women support abortion rights. But there is no serious gender gap on this question. In fact, a majority of “pro-lifers” are women, not men. So Harris is effectively saying: how dare women be allowed a voice in this debate?

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Within minutes of the SCOTUS leak, moreover, we were told it means that before long, interracial marriages will be banned … in a country where 94 percent support them! Imagine Clarence Thomas divorcing himself by jurisprudence. Here’s Traister again: “Voting rights were gutted in 2013. Marriage equality. Griswold. Loving. Don’t ever listen to anyone who tells you such fears are silly or overblown.” Actually, listen to them — if you can hear them over Traister’s permanent rage-tantrum.

What strikes me about all of this is not the emotive hyperbole — that’s par for the course in a country where every discourse is now dialed to eleven. What strikes me most in these takes is the underlying contempt for and suspicion of the democratic process — from many of the same people who insist they want to save it. How dare voters have a say on abortion rights! The issue — which divides the country today as much as it has for decades — is one that apparently cannot ever be put up for a vote. On this question, Democrats really do seem to believe that seven men alone should make that decision — once, in 1973. Women today, including one on SCOTUS? Not so much.

Is this the case in any other Western country? No. Even the most progressive countries regulate abortion through the democratic process. In Germany, it’s illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy — more restrictive than the case before the US Supreme Court that bars abortion after 15 weeks. European countries where the legal cutoff is even more restrictive: Austria, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium and Switzerland. Abortion enshrined as a constitutional right? Not even in super-progressive Canada.

Litigation on spending to educate undocumented immigrants

Niki Griswold:

Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that Texas would consider challenging a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring states to offer free public education to all children, including those of undocumented immigrants.

“Texas already long ago sued the federal government about having to incur the costs of the education program, in a case called Plyler versus Doe,” Abbott said, speaking during an appearance on the Joe Pags show, a conservative radio talk show. “And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue. … I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler versus Doe was issued many decades ago.”

The remarks came days after a leaked draft of a forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court opinion revealed that a majority of justices are poised to revoke Roe v. Wade, the landmark case establishing the right to abortion.

Civics: Free Speech and St Olaf

Robert Zimmerman:

The new dark age of silencing: David Anderson, the president of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, has removed the director of the school’s Institute for Freedom & Community, Edmund Santurri, because Santurri apparently encouraged too much free speech by inviting a wide range of speakers to lecture at the institute.

The lecture that appeared to draw the most objections was by Peter Singer, who has expressed controversial views about disabled people. An appearance by John McWhorter — who has argued some anti-racism initiatives go too far in stifling debate — was also reportedly controversial.

Singer has for decades often advocated in favor of abortion and even infanticide. McWorter meanwhile opposes the racist principles of critical race theory. To put it mildly, these speakers indicated the sincerity of Santurri’s effort to bring a wide range of political thought to St. Olaf.

Civics: The Court, like the U.S. Constitution, was designed to be a limit on the excesses of democracy. Roe denied, not upheld, the rights of citizens to decide democratically

Glenn Greenwald:

Every time there is a controversy regarding a Supreme Court ruling, the same set of radical fallacies emerges regarding the role of the Court, the Constitution and how the American republic is designed to function. Each time the Court invalidates a democratically elected law on the ground that it violates a constitutional guarantee — as happened in Roe — those who favor the invalidated law proclaim that something “undemocratic” has transpired, that it is a form of “judicial tyranny” for “five unelected judges” to overturn the will of the majority. Conversely, when the Court refuses to invalidate a democratically elected law, those who regard that law as pernicious, as an attack on fundamental rights, accuse the Court of failing to protect vulnerable individuals.

This by-now-reflexive discourse about the Supreme Court ignores its core function. Like the U.S. Constitution itself, the Court is designed to be an anti-majoritarian check against the excesses of majoritarian sentiment. The Founders wanted to establish a democracy that empowered majorities of citizens to choose their leaders, but also feared that majorities would be inclined to coalesce around unjust laws that would deprive basic rights, and thus sought to impose limits on the power of majorities as well.

Ann Althouse notes. And: A witty comment at WaPo: “It’s almost as if the Supreme Court believes it has a right to privacy….”

Matthew Schmitz:

Aaron Sibarium of the Washington Free Beacon has extensively documented the growing radicalism of students at America’s top law schools. They have been trained in forms of activism that place desired outcome over due process, and inculcate contempt for legal procedures and professional norms. As they graduate and take roles at law firms, government bureaus, and high courts, their attitudes will remake our legal system. Their cynicism will spread—not only on the left, but on the right, which will not fail to notice how the system is changing.

One response to this state of affairs is to insist on the rule of law and due process to the exclusion of all else, in hopes that our society can be constituted on the basis of pure neutrality. This is naive. Legal procedures are never perfectly neutral. They are always shaped by the politics of those who wield them, and they are always arranged toward certain ends. That does not make them worthless. It simply means that they become hard to sustain in the face of grave social conflict. In every individual case, justice matters. So does procedural integrity. But due process and rule of law cannot substitute for the shared ends on which social peace depends.

Of course, reaching agreement on shared ends looks all but impossible. America is deeply divided by a culture war that is also a class war. As Christopher Lasch observed, abortion is “first and foremost a class issue.” It condenses far-ranging class differences into a single potent issue. Of Americans with an advanced degree, 72 percent regard abortion as “morally acceptable,” while only 33 percent of Americans with a high school diploma or less agree.

School Reopening Mess Drives Frustrated Parents Toward GOP

Michael C. Bender:

Democrat Jennifer Loughran spent the pandemic’s early days sewing face masks for neighbors. Last month, as a newly elected school-board member, she voted to lift the district’s mask mandate. That came four months after she voted for the state’s Republican candidate for governor.

After a monthslong political identity crisis, Ms. Loughran decided her opposition to her party’s mask mandates, economic restrictions and school-closure policies outweighed her support for positions on climate change, abortion and gay rights, at least for the moment.

Watching her daughter fall behind in virtual kindergarten, Ms. Loughran had grown so frustrated not knowing when her children would return to the classroom that she joined a group that attracted right-leaning parents in its school-reopening push. She was unhappy that Gov. Phil Murphy didn’t fight to reopen schools sooner, and she associated his fellow Democrats with mask mandates and restrictions.

She hasn’t decided which party to pick this fall in her local House race, a contest expected to help determine control of Congress. “What I do know,” she said, “is that my party-line vote shouldn’t be taken for granted anymore.”

The defection of once-loyal voters like Ms. Loughran—along with disapproval from independents—is among the challenges Democrats face in their bid to retain control of Congress and win state-level races in this November’s midterm elections. These voters say Democratic officials left pandemic restrictions in place too long and mishandled the health crisis, with devastating consequences for their children, while Republicans have generally pushed to minimize school closures and keep the economy open.