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51 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1203 (1977-1978)
The Scientist's Rights to Research: A Constitutional Analysis

handle is hein.journals/scal51 and id is 1219 raw text is: THE SCIENTIST'S RIGHT TO
Scientists in recent years have encountered numerous public attempts
to regulate scientific research. The public has intervened in decisions
concerning the relative priority of pure and applied research, the use of
certain subject groups and research methods, and the scope of basic
research, as evidenced by the debate over recombinant DNA research.
For many scientists the establishment of a new boundary between
science and society is cause for anxious fear. In their eyes, the trend
toward public control threatens to politicize scientific research, and,
like Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union, to destroy scientific creativity and
the social benefits of new discoveries. Although these fears are usually
expressed in utilitarian terms about reduced scientific product, the lan-
guage of rights has entered the debate. Proposed DNA regulation is
an unprecedented introduction of prior restraints on scientific in-
quiry.1 Social scientists object to human-subject review procedures as
a violation of academic freedom.2 Other scientists assert that any gov-
ernment restriction violates the scientist's right of free scientific inquiry
to choose research goals and methods according to disinterested,
universalistic criteria of scientific validity Public intervention, in
short, violates the scientist's fundamental right to do research.
Because public intervention in science has great significance, it is
© 1978 by John A. Robertson.
* Associate Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, Program in Medical
Ethics. B.A. 1964, Dartmouth College; J.D. 1968, Harvard University.
1. Open letter to Congress (June 18, 1977) (statement on recombinant DNA research signed
by participants in a conference on biological regulatory mechanisms (July 4-8, 1977)), reprinted in
199 SCIENCE 208 (1977).
2. Klockars, Field Ethicsfor the Life Study, in STREET ETHONOGRAPHY 201 (R. Weppner
ed. 1977).
3. Cohen, Mhen May Research Be Stopped?, 296 NEw ENG. J. MED. 1203 (1977); Stetten,
Freedom of Enquiry, 81 GENETICs 416 (1975).


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