Privacy, Family Rights, and Reproductive Freedom

As a state supreme court justice, Brown has issued only one opinion dealing with abortion, but it raises serious concerns about her judicial philosophy concerning women’s constitutional right to privacy and reproductive freedom. In her dissent, Brown argued that the federal Constitutioni somehow restricts the privacy protections that may be provided by the state constitution, a position far outside the mainstream of judicial thought. She argued that the court majority’s decision ruling unconstitutional a restrictive parental consent law for minors seeking abortions would allow courts to “topple every cultural icon, to dismiss all societal values, and to become final arbiters of traditional morality.”

Brown partially dissented from an important ruling this year upholding the validity of second-parent adoptions in California, a ruling that was vitally important to children and parents involved in as many as 20,000 adoptions in the state, including many by same-sex couples. Brown said the ruling “trivialized family bonds,” even though the majority explained that it would encourage and strengthen such bonds.

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