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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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Hiroshima and the “Easy” Thing to Do

The just war ethic cannot justify the intentional killing of some innocents for the sake of defending the lives of other innocents because the lives of the innocent are the actual point of war. We go to war on behalf of the innocent men and women wronged by some act against their nation. We fight that war by the morality able to name that wrong as a wrong, and able to express that wrong by the means employed in its vindication.

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Judicial Nominees Must Explicitly Acknowledge That Roe Was Wrongly Decided

Roe v. Wade is no secondary issue. It is not something to be pushed to the side of the nomination process. Roe is central. Roe is a window into the constitutional worldview of a would-be justice. It is a measure of their sense of what a justice should be. That is why I say today that I will vote only for Supreme Court nominees who have explicitly acknowledged that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. Adapted from a speech given on the floor of the Senate by Senator Hawley on June 30, 2020.

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The Church Has the Form of a City

The book of Acts shows that the Catholic Church has the form of a city in which a specific work is conducted. That work of sanctification has its source in the sacrifice of the Mass, which the state must allow the Church to continue celebrating as much as possible. This essay originally appeared in French and is translated here for the first time.

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“Going Dark” and the Politics of Software Code

Apple has been entangled in several recent controversies over its decision to adopt unbreakable encryption for its iPhone. The company has inscribed an absolute right to privacy in its code and, in so doing, has failed to take into account the proper moral and legal limits on that right. Other technological solutions should be considered that could balance the rights of physical security and privacy.

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Thought, “the World,” and Education

Inwardness, intellectual or otherwise, is the source and the safeguard of individual human flourishing, without which no community is judged to do well. Individuals must experience their learning as a mode of freedom and spontaneity, not a complex navigation of yet another structure of authority and achievement.

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Hamiltonian Nationalism: A Response to Samuel Gregg

Samuel Gregg admonishes us that Hamilton was really “a different kind of nationalist from those that claim this mantle in our time.” While we yield to no one in our respect for Gregg, we think he has gone astray here: partly by overlooking some relevant aspects of Hamilton’s thought, and partly by mischaracterizing today’s American nationalism.

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The State of Social Conservatism and the Role of Public Discourse

Public Discourse offers social conservatives precisely the type of forum that the particular challenges of our time demand. In the face of countless challenges to our familiar assumptions about politics, law, and economics, we need an honest and robust conversation among people who share the same basic moral commitments but defend widely different policies on the basis of those commitments.

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Religious Liberty Is Important, But It’s Not Enough

The religious liberty triumphs of the past several days are important, but they’re not enough. Not nearly so. We need to contend about the truth of the matter. Through legislation and litigation, we need to make it clear that it’s lawful to act on the convictions that we are created male and female and that male and female are created for each other. Privacy and safety at a shelter, equality on an athletic field, and good medicine are at stake for everyone—religious or not.

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Darwin, Marx, Aquinas, and China

What often intrigues my Chinese colleagues and students is that we do not need to accept the Christian faith that Thomas Aquinas embraced to see that, on his principles, there is no need to choose between viewing creation as the constant exercise of divine omnipotence and acknowledging the causes that the natural sciences disclose.

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Just Peace Theory: A Syllabus of Errors

The Catholic Church should not abandon Just War doctrine in favor of Just Peace theory. The social and political realities of our time, as in all times, require that we have a theologically grounded moral framework for both judging particular acts of war and then working to limit war on the basis of those judgments.

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Whose Nation? Which Nationalism?

Americans are in the midst of an important debate about the virtues and dangers of nationalism. Unfortunately, interlocutors are not always clear about what they are arguing for or against when they use the term. Some key distinctions from the work of Jacques Maritain can help clarify matters.

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Textual Literalism and Legal Positivism: On Bostock and the Western Legal Tradition

For centuries, judges, lawyers, and legislators agreed that the object, end or purpose of the law—more precisely, the “mischief” that it was enacted to overcome—is crucial for determining its meaning. Any uncertainties in the meaning of the terms employed by the lawgiver must be resolved in accord with general custom and common usage at the time the law was enacted. Bostock is the most recent example of the Supreme Court violating this foundational principle of the rule of law.

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What Does Justice Roberts’s Ruling Mean for the Pro-Life Cause?

Pro-lifers have waited nearly a half century for the Court to repudiate its entire ill-founded abortion jurisprudence. The state’s interest is not in protecting some esoteric “potentiality of human life,” but in protecting the lives of actual vulnerable, unique, and utterly dependent human children. More still, women’s liberty is not best described by Casey’s paean to nihilism; rather, properly understood, women’s liberty is not in conflict with their unborn children at all.

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Systemic Racial Bias in the Criminal Justice System Is Not a Myth

Many on both the left and the right tend to speak of systemic racism simply as a 0/1 state: either the system is fundamentally and inextricably racist or it is not racist at all. But recognizing distinct mechanisms at play in a racialized system should help us see systemic racial bias as a matter of degrees—as something that can improve or worsen over time. Indeed, research suggests that racial disparities have been declining over time, though there is no guarantee of inevitable progress, and our present situation makes it clear that we still have a long way to go.

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Systemic Racism, God’s Grace, and the Human Heart: What the Bible Teaches About Structural Sin

Sin corrupts every institution and every system because, one way or another, sinful human beings are involved. This means that laws, policies, habits, and customs are also corrupted by sin. We are called to do everything within our power to expunge sin from the structures of our society. Christians know that the justice of God demands that we do so. At the same time, we cannot accept that the structural manifestations of sin are the heart of the problem. No, the heart of the problem is found in the sinfulness of the individual human heart.

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A New Birth for American Civil Rights

Christians are called not only to pray but also to act for justice, because faith without works is dead. Today, we are called to give new birth to the civil rights movement, to finally fulfill the promise of the American civil rights project for which so many fought and died.

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Above the Law: The Data Are In on Police, Killing, and Race

Police killing is not the work of vigilant warriors defending society at great personal cost, and sometimes going too far. It is the day-in, day-out petty tyranny of a taxpayer-funded bureaucratic lobby group. The difference is that, unlike other public sector unions, police unions have military-grade equipment they can use to violently crush protests against their abuses, and they are legally immune from most consequences. They’re teachers’ unions, but with tanks and endless get-out-of-jail-free cards.

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