Plaintiff-appellant, a lawyer, brings his own pro se action and appeal against the mother of his child born out of wedlock and her husband, the stepfather of the child. He also sues James Monk, the county attorney of Carroll County, Kentucky, in his official capacity. The theory of the action is that the Kentucky statutes requiring a natural father to pay child support for his son born out of wedlock, as enforced in the state courts in this case by Monk, violate the substantive due process protections of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Kentucky courts have ordered plaintiff to pay $851 per month in child support.
Some theory. How does the plaintiff back it up?
Plaintiff makes a kind of "fairness" or "reciprocity" argument. His basic claim is that the mother of the child "fraudulently induced" sexual intercourse, claiming that her birth control pills would prevent pregnancy, then left the state, married another man, and delayed seeking child support for several years after birth. The plaintiff argues that the Kentucky paternity and child support laws are inconsistent with sexual and procreative "privacy" rights recognized by the Supreme Court, e.g., Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965); Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973); Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52 (1976); Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). The right to procreative privacy, he argues, "includes the right to decide not to become a parent even after conception," and "must extend to both biological parents," so that "Kentucky's statutory scheme" must be invalidated because it "imposes parenthood on biological fathers while denying them any right or opportunity to decide not to become a parent after conception."
The gander demands the same sauce as the goose. I suppose the really remarkable aspect of this case is that we haven't had a flood of similar ones, all clutching the equal-protection clause like a straw.
As for that fraudulent inducement of sexual relations but wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here.
The appellate court's three-page ruling cuts the plaintiff no slack:
As the plaintiff concedes, there are no judicial decisions recognizing a constitutional right of a man to terminate his duties of support under state law for a child that he has fathered, no matter how removed he may be emotionally from the child. Child support has long been a tax fathers have had to pay in Western civilization. For reasons of child welfare and social utility, if not for moral reasons, the biological relationship between a father and his offspring even if unwanted and unacknowledged remains constitutionally sufficient to support paternity tests and child support requirements. We do not have a system of government like ancient Sparta where male children are taken over early in their lives by the state for military service. The biological parents remain responsible for their welfare. One of the ways the state enforces this duty is through paternity laws. This responsibility is not growing weaker in our body politic, as plaintiff seems to suggest, but stronger as the passage of the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992, Pub. L. No. 102-521, the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, Pub. L. No. 105-187, and the Child Support Performance and Incentive Act of 1998, Pub. L. No. 105-200, would indicate. The sexual privacy cases referred to by plaintiff do not give either biological parent the right to escape responsibility after the child is born. Neither the laws of biological reproduction nor the Due Process Clause recognize the "fairness" arguments plaintiff raises.
I'm trying not to read more into that "laws of biological reproduction" phrase than actually is there, but I can't help but think that this is a shot across the bow of those who think everything, from the time of the sunrise to the taste of one's tea, is subject to legislation.
And then there's this, in the very next sentence:
Reproduction and child support requirements occur without regard to the male's wishes or his emotional attachment to his offspring.
In this case, a brief ejaculation, obtained in the time-honored fashion, and a hurried disappearance thereafter, incurs expense of $10,212 per annum plus legal fees.
As arguments for abstinence go, at least for boys, this has to be reckoned as one of the better ones.
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