"Roe vs. Wade for Men"

Our View of the Decision

After the March 9th filing of "Roe vs. Wade for Men" in a United States District Court in Michigan, the Attorney General of Michigan intervened and made a motion to have the case dismissed. He argued that, once a baby was born, Michigan's child support laws were enforced against men and women equally. Therefore, when Matt Dubay was forced to pay child support, there was no violation of the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.

The implication of the state's argument is that every year there are hundreds or thousands of single Michigan women who, after giving birth, are prevented from giving their babies up for adoption by biological fathers. Then, presumably, these fathers get custody of their children and persuade the state to compel the biological mothers to give them child support. Child support enforcement is gender-neutral. There is no sex discrimination, according to the state of Michigan.

Okay...

Jeffrey Cojocar, the attorney for Matt Dubay, filed a Brief opposing the state's motion to dismiss. Mr. Cojocar demanded that the Michigan A.G. present one woman who wanted to give her baby up for adoption and then was forced to pay child support. The state implied that there were many such women. "Show us one," Jeff said.

It was a dramatic and risky move for Mr. Cojocar because he was giving the Michigan Attorney General an easy way out. All the A.G. had to do was cite just one example of a woman forced to pay child support for a child she didn't want to parent. But, we reasoned that if the state failed to produce even one woman, the judge would have no choice but to deny the motion to dismiss. Thousands of men forced into parenthood but no women? That would certainly be an apparent violation of the equal protection clause. That would require a trial on the merits. That would necessitate legal discovery and investigation and further argument. And so, Mr. Cojocar said, "Show us one."

There was no response from the state. "Show us one!" we demanded.

On July 17, 2006 United States District Court Judge, David M. Lawson, summarily dismissed Matt Dubay's lawsuit. In a decision that reeked of unnecessary and inappropriate sarcasm, Lawson chided Dubay for not wanting to support "his" daughter. "[Dubay] had difficulty accepting the financial consequences of his conduct so the state came to his assistance," wrote Judge Lawson, with smirking and childish penmanship. In our view, the judge's sarcasm revealed his bias. We had hoped he would have displayed an intellectual and judicial curiosity and inquired of the state, "Is there at least one woman?"

Had the judge conducted a full hearing and then decided against us, thoughtfully, that would have been discouraging. But that didn't happen here. Instead, Judge Lawson slammed the courthouse door in Matt Dubay's face and then shamefully ordered him to pay the state's legal fees. The judge's decision will likely have a chilling effect on any citizen who wants to fight for his or her civil rights in a federal court.

Had the judge conducted a full hearing, we might have successfully exposed the inequality and sexism of child support enforcement. The Michigan authorities might have been embarrassed. The lack of equal protection given to Matt Dubay might have become obvious. The judge might have been required to rule in Matt's favor. Oh, maybe that's why the case was dismissed.

Our Brief, dismissed so flippantly by the judge, put forth the case for an equal partnership between men and women, a sharing of fundamental rights and responsibilities. It made this defining statement on behalf of equal reproductive choice for men...

Ultimately, the practical intent and effect of Roe vs. Wade was to permit women to make the following choice: To engage in intimate sexual activity, while, at the same time, choosing not to be a parent, even in the event of a contraceptive failure. No matter what legal analysis is applied, that is the fundamental right created by "Roe." The Supreme Court specifically rejected the argument, as put forth by Wade, that women could make procreative choice by abstaining from sex. Clearly, the Court intended for a woman to have a private, intimate life, without sacrificing the right to make procreative choice.

By its very nature, this is a fundamental right that applies regardless of biology. It cannot survive both as a fundamental right and as a limited right, limited only to people with internal reproductive systems.

Somewhere in the United States of America, there is a judge who will want to preside over a full and fair and impartial hearing on the merits of this argument. Sadly, David M. Lawson was not that judge. But he's just one.