Here's What Hillary Clinton Actually Wrote. . . .

August 23, 1992|By HILLARY RODHAM

"Hillary believes that 12-year-olds have a right to sue their parents, and she has compared marriage as an institution to slavery - and life on an Indian reservation."

Pat Buchanan

"If you're out there on issues, taking your case to the people on issues, and you have an activist past, and you're a very aggressive lawyuer, that is a little different than if you're not taking positions."

George Bush

"Will the campaign continue to identify Hillary Clinton as the Winnie Mandela of American politics."

Charlton Heston

"No one can convince me that tha American people are so blind that they would replace Barbara Bush with Hillary Clinton."

Pat Robertson

Several speakers at last week's Republican convention criticized Hillary Clinton's views on marriage and the family. Much of the criticism was apparently based on an article she wrote in 1973. She was then Hillary Rodham, an assistant professor of law at the University of Arkansas who had worked with the Children's Defense Fund, an advocacy group. Entitled "Children Under the Law," the article appeared in the November 1973 issue of Harvard Educational Review. That issue and the one following were special issues devoted to the rights of children.

Defenders of Hillary Clinton have said the views cited by Republican critics were distorted and taken out of context. Both critics and defenders have generally quoted only a few sentences. So the reader can judge the context, here are excerpts from the article. (The article itself filled 28 pages and contained 98 footnotes.) It begins, as articles in academic journals generally do, with an "abstract," a brief summary of the article prepared by the author and/or journal editor.

Children's Defense Fund

The author examines the changing status of children under the law. Traditionally, the law has reflected a social consensus that children's best interests are synonymous with those of their parents, except under the few circumstances where the state is authorized to intervene in family life under the doctrine of parens patriae. Little consideration has been given to the substantive and procedural rights of children as a discrete interest group. At present, law reform is moving to change children's legal status in two ways: by extending more adult rights to children and by recognizing certain unique needs and interests of children as legally enforceable rights. Ms. Rodham summarizes recent Supreme Court decisions which will influence changes of both kinds, and suggests specific directions reform might take.

The phrase "children's rights" is a slogan in search of definition. Invoked to support such disparate causes as world peace, constitutional guarantees for delinquents, affection for infants, and lowering the voting age, it does not reflect any coherent doctrine regarding the status of children as political beings. Asserting that children are entitled to rights and enumerating their needs does not clarify the difficult issues regarding children's legal status. These issues of family autonomy and privacy, state responsibility, and children's independence are complex, but they determine how children are treated by the nation's legislatures, courts, and administrative agencies.

This paper briefly sets out the legal conception of children's status underlying American public policy and case law, and suggests various ways in which this conception needs major revision. There are important new themes emerging in the interpretation of children's status under the law, and several new directions which future litigation and legislation in the interest of children might take. Of particular interest in the trend toward recognizing children's needs and interests as rights under the law.

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