Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Elizabeth Price Foley presents Liberty for All book at Cato Forum

Author: Elizabeth Price Foley
Title: Liberty for All: Reclaiming Individual Privacy in a New Era of Public Morality
Date: 2006
Publisher: Yale University Press

Dr. Foley, law professor at Florida International University, presented her basic thesis at the Cato Institute, "the Fortress of Solitude" or "Ice Box" building on Massachusetts Ave. in Washington DC, near the new Convention Center, on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006, followed by a sandwich luncheon.

Conventional wisdom has it that the Bill of Rights did not prohibit the states from making laws infringing on what we see today as individual liberties, until the "incorporation doctrine" came into being with the 14th Amendment. But Foley argues that the Ninth Amendment actually contains a legal basis for protecting individuals from encroachment by states. However, the courts tended to refuse to rule this way in the first half of the Nineteenth Century because of fear of driving southern states into secession. She discussed the "Harm Principle" as the moral basis for the law.

A counter speaker, of sorts, was William A. Galston, Senior Fellow from the Brookings Institution. Mr. Galston pointed out that at least six of the original thirteen colonies had religion integrated with the state, and had their "bill of rights" set up to enforce religious morality. He cited Massachusetts (today seen as a liberal state, despite or perhaps because of its heavily Roman Catholic heritage, with its progress in gay issues) as having constitutional provisions giving the government the power and mandate to promote public worship of God as a way of promoting public morality.

The two speakers debate the fine points of interpretation of the Ninth Amendment.