Has contemporary liberalism’s devotion to individual liberty come at the expense of our society’s obligations to children? Divorce is now easy to obtain, and access to everything from violent movies to sexually explicit material is zealously protected as freedom of speech. But what of the effects on the young, with their special needs and vulnerabilities? Freedom’s Orphans seeks a way out of this predicament. Poised to ignite fierce debate within and beyond academia, it documents the increasing indifference of liberal theorists and jurists to what were long deemed core elements of children’s welfare.
Evaluating large changes in liberal political theory and jurisprudence, particularly American liberalism after the Second World War, David Tubbs argues that the expansion of rights for adults has come at a high and generally unnoticed cost. In championing new “lifestyle” freedoms, liberal theorists and jurists have ignored, forgotten, or discounted the competing interests of children.
To substantiate his arguments, Tubbs reviews important currents of liberal thought, including the ideas of Isaiah Berlin, Ronald Dworkin, and Susan Moller Okin. He also analyzes three key developments in American civil liberties: the emergence of the “right to privacy” in sexual and reproductive matters; the abandonment of the traditional standard for obscenity prosecutions; and the gradual acceptance of the doctrine of “strict separation” between religion and public life.