Pillar: Politics & Law

Politics & Law

The third pillar of a decent society is a just system of politics and law. Such a government does not bind all persons, families, institutions of civil society, and actors in the marketplace to itself as subservient features of an all-pervading authority. Instead, it honors and protects the inherent equal dignity of all persons, safeguards the family as the primary school of virtue, and seeks justice through the rule of law.

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Fitting the Punishment to the Crime: The Justice of Contemporary Criminal Sentencing Laws

Were the criminal sentencing reforms that began in the 1970s too harsh? Rachel Barkow’s new book says they were. But most Americans would likely call these changes progress: our worst offenders now get something closer to what they should get than in the days when the experts were more in charge of punishment. Perhaps the real question is whether we should ground our criminal law more on justice as retribution.

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Religious Freedom, the Church, and State Coercion

The Church must exercise its authority over temporal matters in a way consistent with its spiritual mission, of which the exercise of temporal jurisdiction is a betrayal. The human person is drawn by nature to seek out and hold the truth whose fullness is revealed in God’s revelation in Christ, but this vision of human fulfillment implies a human subjectivity whose freedom must be respected as it seeks out the truth which fulfills it.

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The Case against Judicial Supremacy

Debates over judicial review and constitutional interpretation only stand to benefit from deeper reflection on the type of political community the Constitution established. The Political Constitution invites us to take the word republic, and its vision of self-government, seriously.

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Václav Benda’s Politics of Shared Responsibility

Through his life and writings, Czech dissident Václav Benda showed that political activity, in the highest sense, requires one to adhere steadfastly to moral principles and to take care that one’s efforts be effective. Above all one must act with and for one’s community: humbly seeking mutual understanding among community members and, as far as possible, fighting for the common good together.

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Is America More Like a Business or a Family?

How should we understand the common good of a political community? Is membership in a political community purely instrumental, like membership in a business venture? Or is it intrinsically good, worth pursuing in itself? The answer to this philosophical question has far-reaching political implications.

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Piracy, Protests, and the Problem of China

America’s relations with China should proceed from the recognition that the Chinese government is lawless. China flouts the rule of law, not occasionally or incidentally but characteristically, because the government understands itself as the source of law and unconstrained by it. The problem of China reminds us of the deeper laws that all nations must respect and that determine whether or not our positive laws are legally just.

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American Muslims Challenge Transgenderism—and Each Other

In amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in cases about sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, some American Muslims argue from their beliefs while others push LGBT causes. This contrast provides non-Muslims a window into the teachings of Islam, and a ringside seat for intra-Muslim conflicts. At stake is whether truth claims or identity politics will prevail.

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Coherence, Calvinball, and the Consistent Ethic of Life

A consistent life ethic (CLE) should consider the totality of an act: not simply the consequences, but also the intention, the object chosen, and the circumstances of the act. Charles Camosy deserves our respect for boldly declaring the case for CLE, but the devil remains in the details. Without agreement on those details, the consistent life ethic remains as unpredictable and random as Calvinball.

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A Catholic Republicanism?

At a time when many are calling for a radical re-thinking of American political life, Catholic social teaching suggests that republicanism is a promising and viable path forward, provided that it place civic freedom and civic virtue at the service of a more substantive view of the purpose of human life.

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Sex at the High Court: On the Redefinition of “Sex” in Civil Rights Law and Faulty Accounts of “Discrimination”

Activists are asking the Court to rewrite our nation’s civil rights laws in a way that would directly undermine one of their main purposes: protecting the equal rights of girls and women. Congress did not legislate such an outcome, and the Court should not usurp Congress’s authority by imposing such an extreme policy on the nation. Biology is not bigotry, and the Court should not conclude otherwise.

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On the Waves of Feminism with Mona Charen

One of the unfortunate poisons that feminism leached into the culture is hostility between the sexes. We need to rescue feminism from that. We need to stress the importance of raising boys and girls who are open-hearted, respectful, and comfortable with themselves and each other. Adapted from an interview with Mona Charen conducted by Ana Samuel during The CanaVox state leaders meeting.

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Defending Against Government Injustice

The temptation to shoot a wayward cop for victimizing an unarmed civilian may be very real. But it is precisely by refusing this temptation and hewing to the better angels of our nature—winged not with retaliatory violence but with patience and love—that society will change.

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Sweeney Trump and the Hollow Men

There are reasons to care which denizens of the wasteland hold political authority, but rejuvenating the wasteland is the more important task. Without recognizing the decadence of our culture, denouncing (or defending) the latest tweet from the president is just a desultory wind swirling dust and ashes.

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Faithful Living in a Fractious Age: Evaluating “Fairness for All” in Light of Christian Theology

Christians cannot support so-called “Fairness For All” for this overarching reason: it is grounded in an unbiblical conception of the human person. The Scripture will not allow us to see any ungodly “orientation” or “identity” as essential to our humanity, as directed toward our flourishing, and thus enshrined in law as a protected category.