Hadley Arkes has been a member of the Amherst College faculty since 1966. He was the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence, and was appointed, in 1987, as the Edward Ney Professor of American Institutions. He has written five books with Princeton University press: Bureaucracy, the Marshall Plan, and the National Interest (1972), The Philosopher in the City (1981), First Things (1986), Beyond the Constitution (1990), and The Return of George Sutherland (1994). His most recent book, Natural Rights and the Right to Choose, was published by Cambridge University Press in the fall of last year (2002). His articles have appeared in professional journals, but apart from his writing in more scholarly formats, he has become known to a wider audience through his writings in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, and National Review, where he has been a contributing editor. Professor Arkes has been a contributor, also, to First Things, a journal that took its name from his book of that title. For eight years he wrote a column for Crisis magazine under the title of “Lifewatch,” and he resumes that column occasionally with pieces for National Review Online.
He was the main advocate, and architect, of the bill that became known as the Born-Alive Infants’ Protection Act. The account of his experience, in moving the bill through Congress, is contained as an epilogue or memoir in his new book, Natural Rights & the Right to Choose. Arkes first prepared his proposal as part of the debating kit assembled for the first George Bush in 1988. The purpose of that proposal was to offer the “most modest first step” of all in legislating on abortion, and opening a conversation even with people who called themselves “pro-choice.” Professor Arkes proposed to begin simply by preserving the life of a child who survived an abortion—contrary to the holding of one federal judge, that such a child was not protected by the laws. Professor Arkes led the testimony on the bill before the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House in July 2000, then again in July 2001. The legislative calendar was upended in the aftermath of September 11th, but in March 2002, the bill was brought to the floor of the House, where it passed unanimously. To the surprise of Professor Arkes, the bill was brought to the floor of the Senate on July 18 and passed in the same way. On August 5, President Bush signed the bill into law in a ceremony in Pittsburgh, with Professor Arkes in attendance.
Professor Arkes has been the founder, at Amherst, of the Committee for the American Founding, a group of alumni and students seeking to preserve, at Amherst, the doctrines of “natural rights” taught by the American Founders and Lincoln. With the same mission, he has preserved his connection to the Madison Program at Princeton University, and served last year as Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School, and Vaughan Fellow in the Madison Program.