The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized the constitutional importance of reproductive autonomy. However, for the unhoused the guarantees of this right can be seen as fictitious promises. This Comment aims to explore the continuum of limitations on reproductive autonomy faced by homeless individuals, and its implications for reproductive rights and justice. Homeless individuals encounter a web of overlapping and mutually reinforcing constraints on their reproductive autonomy at several stages of their reproductive lives—when they are not pregnant but have the capacity to be, during their pregnancy, and as they raise their children. First, in seeking welfare assistance and other public benefits, homeless individuals face significant coercive pressure towards marriage and/or away from pregnancy. Second, homeless individuals are particularly susceptible to the criminalization of pregnancy, which serves to further entrench their poverty. Finally, after a homeless individual gives birth, their lack of housing makes them and their families more susceptible to the child-welfare system, where they may eventually lose their child. In this Comment, I offer close examination of the above constraints and the way in which they subject the homeless population to unjust limitations on their fundamental right to decide “whether to bear or beget a child.”
Our lobbying industry is widely criticized as a pay-for-play system that prioritizes powerful interests at the expense of the common good. Legislative efforts at lobbying reform, however, raise fundamental questions under the First Amendment, particularly where lobbying regulations operate to restrict lobbying activity directly. Recent scholarship into the First Amendment Petition Clause, however, offers new insights into what the First Amendment means for lobbying and public engagement with lawmakers more generally. As the history of petitioning in England, the American colonies, and Congress illustrates, the right to petition protected more than simply a form of political speech but rather a quasi-procedural right to equal participation in the lawmaking process.