Dr. Ben Carson & The Effects of Individualism

This insightful guest post is from Regent Law alumna Amy Hilton:

Dr. Ben Carson, renowned surgeon and Republican presidential candidate, addressed the Christian Legal Society’s national conference in New Orleans this weekend. The theme of the conference was “Hearing God in the Storm: Practicing Law in Turbulent Times.” The goals of the Christian Legal Society include the protection and defense of life and religious liberty.

Dr. Carson was a natural choice for the CLS conference, because he recognizes the threat posed by the philosophy of Individualism. Individualism is a belief-system that “rejects a transcendent morality and Higher Authority in favor of the exaltation of the individual and the submission of law and religion to individual desires.” When the individual is supreme, the family suffers. Politico reports that

Carson [has] beat back criticism of earlier comments in which he suggested that the "women's lib movement" helped contribute to a more entitled "me generation" of Americans.
The fact of the matter is, you know, the family structure is one of the foundations of a strong country. And when we begin to … move it apart from the family and say, 'no, it's about this specific member of the family and it's about their rights and how they feel,' that's problematic," he said. "It has nothing to do with the women's movement, although I know a lot of people on the left have tried to make it sound that [way]."

            Dr. Carson also understands that Individualism leads to father-absence, which has devastating results on children. (Previously discussed here on this blog). He pointed to father-absence as a factor that contributes to violence among youth. Bloomberg reports:

"Usually the father figure is where you learn how to respond to authority," Carson said in an interview last week with American Family Radio. "So now you become a teenager, you’re out there, you really have no idea how to respond to authority, you eventually run into the police or you run into somebody else in the neighborhood who also doesn’t know how to respond but is badder than you are, and you get killed or you end up in the penal system."

            The Fatherhood Initiative confirms Dr. Carson’s point: “Even after controlling for income, youths in father-absent households still had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds.”

            It is encouraging to see that a person of great influence understands the effects of over-emphasizing the individual. Lynne Marie Kohm, professor and dean at Regent University School of Law, wrote an excellent book entitled Family Manifesto: What Went Wrong with the Moral Basis for the Family and How to Restore It that studies Individualism very carefully and offers practical solutions to help protect and restore families.


Is an Adoption Valid in Every State?


     This guest post is from Regent Law student Constance Daly, who is currently studying family law:

     In a September 21st article under Constitutional Law section of the ABA Journal, Debra Cassens Weiss wrote a brief article on the Alabama Supreme Court’s refusal to recognize a lesbian adoption granted in Georgia. The article highlights one of the quandaries courts face in addressing this relatively new area of the law where inconsistencies with established law create dilemmas. Cassens Weiss’s article references a Reuters' article by Daniel Bases, and it is helpful to read both to get a fuller picture of what was going on.

     The lesbian couple lived and worked in Alabama, but went to Georgia to take advantage of the more liberal adoption laws there. One woman, E.L., had conceived three children by artificial insemination and her partner, V.L., adopted them under Georgia law in 2007. The couple split up in 2011, leaving a question of visitation rights. V.L. did not file her suit until 2013, but this was still well before the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all states.

     Oddly enough, the Alabama court, per curium, did not base their decision on Alabama law, but rather on the basis of the Georgia court not properly applying Georgia law. Georgia law doesn’t allow a nonspouse to adopt a child unless the biological parents’ rights are terminated. Homosexual marriage was illegal at the time of the adoption, therefore V.L. was not a spouse. The Alabama decision was 7 to 1 in holding the original adoption as void, and thus negating full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution as a non-issue (at least in this court’s opinion). Had the adoption taken place after the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling then the couple could have married and the adoption would presumably have been legal. Whether this case is appealed, and whether the higher courts will hold that the law of the time remains valid for cases decided at the time, or whether they determine that the new same-sex marriage laws should be applied retroactively, is going to be an emerging issue to watch! 


Divorce: What Would a Child Do?

This thoughtful guest post is from Amy Hilton, Regent Law Alumna:

     A YouTube video has circled social media this week showing a six-year-old girl talking to her mom about her parents’ recent divorce. In the video, the girl asks, “Mom, are you ready to be [my dad’s] friend?” She continues, “Just try your best. I don’t want you and my dad to be replaced and meanies again. I want you [and] my dad to be placed as settled and be friends. I’m not trying to be mean. I just want everyone to be friends. And if I can be nice, I think all of us can be nice too.”

     While People magazine has dubbed this child an “emerging life coach,” it is more fitting to consider this video as an illustration of the effects of divorce and family fragmentation on a child. The little girl in this video is asking for stability. Children suffer when their parents aren’t together.

     A recent article by Lynne Marie Kohm, a professor and dean at Regent University School of Law, suggests that the best environment for raising a child is a home in which the parents are married. Yet, the number of children living in mother-only households has increased steadily since about 1970. The resulting father-absence increases a child’s risks of emotional and behavioral problems, drug use, and teenage pregnancy.

     It is important to strengthen and support the family. Some states—like Texas—are doing so. Dean Kohm is helping family law attorneys protect families by considering a solution other than divorce. Resources to support families during and after separation and divorce are available on this site.


Do Black (Babies) Lives Matter?

The Black Lives Matter Movement has garnered headlines to call attention to America’s racism, but now several current and former NFL Players are bringing a new perspective on the call for lives that matter.   Following on the heels of Ray Lewis’ insistence that the group re-name itself “lives matter,” and Richard Sherman’s reminder that if Black Lives Matter they should matter “all the time,” now Detroit Lions safety Don Carey has joined the chorus by defending those black lives yet unborn, in his interview with the Detroit Free Press.
“I personally have some concerns in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement. I remember when this movement burst onto the scene several years ago. I was both enamored and repelled by its message. Enamored, because as an African-American man, I have experienced and seen injustices committed against my people, sometimes due to no fault of their own. For the first time that I can remember, it seemed someone was standing up for them on a national level. However, I was quickly turned off by this movement due to the narrow mind-set and irony that exists at its roots. Let me explain my meaning.
According to a study by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, more African-American babies were aborted (31,328) in New York than were born (24,758) there in 2012. Needless to say, this number is severely repulsive. Yet, we’ve heard nothing from those within the camp of Black Lives Matter on the subject. It seems that we have Matthew 7 dilemma. That is, we are so focused on the speck in eyes of others that we are ignoring the plank within our own. We are so focused on the injustices done by a few wayward police officers that we ignore the blatant disregard for life within our own culture.
I truly want this movement to flourish. I can easily see the Black Lives Matter movement being the catalyst behind moral and cultural change within the African-American community. However, I fear this will never happen unless those within this movement begin to embrace the totality of its name. Yes “black” lives matter. This also includes those still within the womb. Those who seek change must first be proponents of that change or else those on the outside looking in will ultimately view them as hypocrites.”
Maybe a key to protecting black unborn lives is to restore the jurisprudence of justice to the life debate. Promoting family restoration means all lives, born and unborn, black and white, really do matter.