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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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Liberalism Has Become a Dirty Joke

Conservatives may hope that liberalism’s better angels prevail. But the ravages of ideological liberalism, especially the damage done by the sexual revolution to family and community, require active redress. Conservatives, drawing on the wisdom and traditions we have sustained (and which have sustained us), must help our culture relearn essential parts of being human.

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From the Archives: Can We Still Reason Together? A Conversation with Robert P. George

Where there is a mutual commitment to truth and truth-seeking, relationships can be built between religious believers and secularists, and they can indeed reason together. The minimum condition is this: interlocutors, however wide and deep their substantive philosophical or other differences, need to share the conviction that business between them is to be conducted in the proper currency of intellectual discourse—namely, reasons, evidence, and arguments.

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From the Archives: Faith, History, and Politics: A Transatlantic Conversation about the Role of Religion in the American Story

“Much American (and British) media depiction of faith—sadly, but perhaps inevitably – tends to be primary colored, inadequately nuanced, and at odds with what I have found to be the case from my fifty years’ engagement with the United States.” An interview with the British historian of America, Richard Carwardine.

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From the Archives: Conservatives Should Embrace Labor Unions

If we think there’s too much government regulation, then the authentically conservative solution is not to say, “Well, let’s just try to operate a landscape of isolated individuals jostling in a competitively economic marketplace,” but “Let’s create institutions of countervailing power so that where exploitation is happening, the people themselves are equipped to resist it, and the government doesn’t need to intervene to fix it.” If designed correctly, a system of sectoral labor unions can actually help achieve the conservative goal of limited government.

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Is Marxism Self-Defeating—or Self-Fulfilling?

Sunday marks exactly three full decades after the fall of the Soviet Union. This anniversary arrives at a portentous time when Marxist critiques of capitalism is becoming relevant again. Marx’s legacy is hard to pin down because his influence is paradoxical. The measures Marx influenced “tamed” the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism and removed the need for revolution; yet his influence has led to the fulfillment of considerable portion of his programme.

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Public Discourse and the Need for Reason, Good Government, and Moral Realism

The texts I reflect on illuminate core themes of Public Discourse’s work: cultivating a proper understanding of reason, appreciating the indispensability of moral formation, and framing law around eternal moral truths. I was deeply honored and delighted when R. J. Snell and the current editorial team invited me to join them as a contributing editor, and I look forward to more conversations to come.

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Why the Supreme Court Hasn’t Ruled (For Now) on Vaccine Mandates

Plaintiffs have filed lawsuits arguing that mandates without religious exemptions violate their free exercise of religion. Given the thorny legal questions involved, and the possibility of inflaming the polarized situation further, the Supreme Court will likely allow the issue to percolate in the lower courts and resist the invitation to rule on whether the First Amendment requires religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines.

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On State Powers

Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton’s new book, Who Decides?, provides a powerful argument for ordinary people who feel powerless in their ability to affect the course of national politics. State constitutions provide an alternative venue for meaningful political change and are an important way to exercise constitutional self-government.

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What Happens If Roe Falls? An Interview with Ross Douthat

The day you pass pro-life legislation, if you’re trying to win people over, should also be the day that you are passing new spending bills to support adoption, to support pregnant mothers—to support, not just crisis pregnancy centers, but crisis first-two-years-of-life centers! And that doesn’t have to mean bureaucratic welfare-state spending. But it means some kind of spending, in a way that I think many people active in the pro-life movement are comfortable with. Many people in the Republican Party institutionally are obviously not.

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Why American Jews Shouldn’t Object to Overturning Roe: Part 2

In Part I of this article, we established that many of the reasons some Jewish Americans passionately oppose overturning of Roe v. Wade are either overblown or baseless. Today, we highlight one of the ways in which overturning Roe will help to foster a political culture of federalism and subsidiarity that benefits religious minorities.

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Why American Jews Shouldn’t Object to Overturning Roe: Part 1

This two-part article addresses how American Jews should think about looming changes in the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence. Today, the authors discuss why many fears commonly expressed by Jews regarding a post-Roe world are overblown or outright false. Tomorrow, they will explain some of the under-appreciated ways that overturning Roe will benefit vulnerable religious minorities.

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It’s Time to Oppose COVID Authoritarianism

Safetyism and Wokeism are fellow travelers, joined at the hip in many more contexts than not. Both elevate people’s subjective and emotional experiences, so long as they point in a progressive direction, over what is biologically or scientifically true. It is time for both conservatives and traditional liberals to wake up to this reality, which requires more consistently translating our convictions into action.

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Progressive Legal Scholars Have Long Known Roe’s Reasoning Is Calamitous

Roe is indefensible as a matter of honest constitutional interpretation. It short-circuited the political process and poisoned the Court. Its systematic flaws, widely acknowledged by a variety of progressive and pro-choice legal scholars, caused the judiciary to become the branch most, not “least[,] dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution.”

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The Bookshelf: The Undiscipline of Political Science

The ideas that the truth about the human condition is radically contingent on history (historicism) and that we can speak rationally only about facts and not at all about “values” or moral principles (positivism) lead inexorably to a failure of all conviction, and ultimately to nihilism. What results is fanaticism: the impulse to bend others to one’s will, despite—or precisely because of—the lack of any rational foundation for one’s preferences.

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For True Social Justice, Do Not Assume the Original Position

When “lost world” or original position doctrines inform our search for justice, we are much less likely to work to improve social conditions in the real world. “Second-best justice,” on the other hand, seeks the reasonable solution to a dispute, one acceptable to all parties that repairs communal harmony to the greatest extent possible. Perfection does not enter the equation, either as an original state or as a goal.

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A Church Without Walls, Behind Walls: How Evangelicals Are Transforming American Prisons

Correctional facilities must grapple with unprecedented levels of overcrowding, violence, and suicide, as well as rampant mental illness among inmates. The tightening of budgets and the resulting loss of vocational, educational, and treatment programs pose additional difficulties. In the midst of these struggles, faith-based approaches, led by faith-motivated volunteers and prisoners, are providing the most innovative, holistic, and effective programs available in correctional facilities today.

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Worth the Price: Colonial Catholics, Religious Tolerance, and the Post-Liberal Right

Catholics in colonial America pioneered a vision of liberty of conscience grounded in human dignity that would eventually be affirmed as doctrine by the second Vatican Council. A new book by Michael Breidenbach illustrates how unsettled the issue of papal temporal authority was in the founding era, and how damaging papal insistence on it was to the survival of Catholic minorities in English and colonial life.

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