SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Monday, February 28, 2005

MAD SCIENCE, BAD LAW. Yesterday at Secondhand Smoke Wesley J. Smith reminds us of the effort underway by certain idealogues to sweep away any ethical constraints to scientific experimentation on human life. The post is entitled "Science without moral limits," and is most definitely worthy of readers' attention.

While I won't analyze all of the arguments discussed , one argument of proposed by ideologues enthralled by a twisted scientISM is described by Smith as follows:

Some claim that any and all research, not just cloning, is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution since publishing the results of experiments is a form of expression. If this idea were enacted by a legislature, or more likely, imposed by the courts, it would mean that only the most compelling state interest would permit government to prohibit any area of experimentation that researchers might devise.


If not properly countered by strong scholarship in the relevant law and health journals, such an argument could conceivably hold sway with certain jurists. It would allow the ideologues of scientISM to their unfettered experimentation on human subjects, while giving judges the final say over what amoutns to a "compelling state interest." And I doubt ethical concerns would probably qualify in the mind of some.

But of course, the notion that any and all research would be protected as First Amendment speech because the published results are expression is completely ridiculous. NO ONE would say that shooting a man in cold blood would be First Amendment speech because the murderer later wrote down the story of what made him do it and why it was better for society and published it.

Furthermore, comparison of the Supreme Court's striking down antiquated state sodomy laws based merely public distaste of the conduct--as the court describes the law at issue in Lawrence v. Texas--offers a bad analogy to the issue of cloning. No one's privacy is impacted by cloning. Cloning involves the growing and harvesting of human life as a commodity--not the activity of two consenting adults behind closed doors.

Many proponents of cloning are likely motivated by benevolent hopes and aspirations. But not all ends justify the means. Ironically, even our Federal Constitution recognizes this, inherent in the Necessary & Proper Clause--and expounded upon by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist and Chief Justice John Marshall in McCulloch v. Maryland. Means-to-ends relationships are also present in the Fourteenth Amendment's Enforcement Clause (concerning "appropriate" legislation). [Indeed, the articles comprising the Bill of Rights and some of the later amendmetns are essentially negative grants of power--provisions that restrict the means by which the federal government may pursue its ends.]

Only an erasure of all ethical boundaries in scientific experimentation plus a revisionist overhaul of our Constitution could enshrine such a contrived, unlimited right to research.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

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