The Corner

Conscientious Objection For Taxpayers

Charles Krauthammer writes today: “It simply will not do for opponents of this expanded [embryonic stem-cell] research to say that the federal government should not force those Americans who find this research abhorrent to support it with their taxes. By that logic we should never go to war, or impose the death penalty, except by unanimous consent of the entire population. We make many life-or-death decisions as a society as a whole, without being held hostage to the sensibilities of a minority, however substantial and sincere.”

Krauthammer is right that the mere fact that people find a policy immoral is not a clinching argument against that policy. But the argument gets stronger when either of the following two circumstances apply: 1) It is not necessary for the government to adopt that policy, and 2) the objectors’ moral judgment of the situation is sound. Both apply here. On point 1, note that Krauthammer, like Frist, fails to identify any good that federal funding, on top of existing private-sector and state funding, is necessary to achieve.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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