DC Circuit nominee Nina Pillard had her confirmation hearing this morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee. At the hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz echoed a transparently false right-wing talking point suggesting that Pillard has written that courts should strike down abstinence-only sex education courses as unconstitutional. When he asked her about this, she explained what her article actually said (as opposed to how it has been distorted by partisans): Abstinence-only by itself is not constitutionally suspect, and it is a curriculum choice up to the discretion of local parents and school board officials. A large body of Supreme Court precedent makes clear that sex inequality and outdated sex stereotypes cannot constitutionally be the basis of government policies and actions. Serious concerns would be raised if a public school course had a curriculum intended to make students behave in certain ways based on those unconstitutional bases.
Sen. Cruz apparently wasn’t listening, since he immediately repeated his attack without addressing what she had just said to him. Nor did he pay attention to what she actually wrote in the article:
“I do not here take a position on the abstinence message itself, beyond arguing that it must not be embedded with sexual stereotypes or discriminatorily applied to women and not men.”
The idea that public school sex education classes, regardless of whether they teach abstinence, must conform to the Constitution is hardly a controversial position.