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Professors Michelle Goodwin and Anne Dailey and President Laura Rosenbury have written two compelling essays on Part 4 of the Restatement of Children and the Law, dealing with Children in Society. Goodwin’s essay, She’s So Exceptional: Rape and Incest Exceptions Post-Dobbs, focuses on § 19.02 of the Restatement, dealing with the right of minors to reproductive health treatments. This Section was approved by the American Law Institute before the Supreme Court decided Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade. In her essay, Goodwin explores the harms that will follow if minors’ right of access to abortion, contraception, treatment for sexually transmitted infections and other care is cut off. Dailey and Rosenbury engage with §§ 18.10 and 18.11, dealing with minors’ right of free expression in their essay, Beyond Home and School. Building on arguments against strong parental authority they have developed in earlier work, they challenge the Restatement’s position recognizing parents’ authority to limit their children’s access to speech, focusing particularly on social media.

This Comment begins by briefly describing Part 4 of the Restatement, which includes diverse regulation dealing with the law’s direct relationship with children, not mediated (primarily) through the institutions most relevant to children’s experience — the family, the public school, and the justice system. It then reviews the two essays on Part 4, turning first to Goodwin’s essay and then to Dailey and Rosenbury’s essay. Finally, I suggest that the two essays, while they address very different legal issues, are in conversation with one another. Goodwin’s essay is a cautionary tale on the risk of giving the state (and particularly the political branches) greater authority to decide what is harmful to children, as Dailey and Rosenbury’s proposal would seem to do.


Family Law | Juvenile Law | Law


Originally appearing in the University of Chicago Law Review, 91 U. Chi. L. Rev. 633 (2024). Reprinted with permission from the University of Chicago Law School.