Common-good originalism’s historical understanding of the Constitution’s adoption is perhaps its weakest link. The Constitution emerged from a negotiated consensus of a complex popular sovereign—a fact that ought to reinforce a judge’s commitment to the written text.
Pillar: 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.
Defenders of the free exercise of religion need to accept that we are playing a long game. Religious freedom is winning, even if the Court’s religious freedom jurisprudence develops over the span of more than one term.
Control of public deliberation and political action in America is quickly passing into the hands of an unelected oligarchy. To truly break the tyranny of Big Tech, Josh Hawley and his allies may need to drop the Jeffersonian fig leaf and forthrightly embrace a contemporary revival of Hamiltonian republicanism.
Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, once a slaveholder, was the sole defender of black civil rights on the Court during the Jim Crow era. Peter Canellos’s book, The Great Dissenter, explains how Harlan’s relationship with his African-American half-brother shaped his views on racial equality.
Pitting as it does two different conceptions of popular sovereignty against each other, the debate over the Electoral College is a proxy for a more fundamental debate over what kind of regime should govern America. The history of French republicanism teaches that the closer Americans come to changing the way they elect their president, the closer they come to regime change.
The future of warfare will rely heavily on technology, and apps provide the perfect avenues for acts of espionage and targeted disinformation campaigns against the American people. Since the Chinese Communist Party has access to the copious amounts of biometrics, location tracking, conversations, and other personal data collected by apps like TikTok and WeChat, the Biden administration should take action against this serious security threat.
The doctrine of stare decisis is a dangerous tool, malleable, and peculiarly susceptible to manipulation and abuse. It entices and deceives. If just two justices compromise their principles and betray the Constitution, Dobbs will be lost. If so, Dobbs will displace Casey as the worst Supreme Court decision of all time, and the justices rendering it will merit the most severe condemnation of history. But if the Court overrules Roe and Casey, the Dobbs case would rank among the most magnificent decisions in the Court’s history.
This is a signal moment in America’s constitutional history. One of the most notorious decisions in the Court’s history is likely either to be repudiated and overruled—discarded, finally and definitively—or else reaffirmed and entrenched, perhaps permanently. The stakes could not possibly be higher.
The belief that human beings and human communities can be rearranged in any way that suits our creative fancy is, as the examples of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union show, an invitation to tyranny and disaster.
Reparations for racial injustice are necessary, but they will be effective only on a local level, not a national one.
Who would deny that liberalism is falling apart, that the center is not holding, or that a vindictive and evangelistic progressivism is afoot? If so, the natural law cannot but feel like feeble comfort. Still, some of us are unwilling to reject public reason or the hopefulness of John Courtney Murray, for we never assumed his optimism was naivete.
I would venture to say that Europeans and Americans are confronting a spiritual conundrum. How does an immense civilization examine its conscience? How do nations and societies confess and atone for their sins?
While it is good that legal systems have become more sensitive to the psychological effects of the law on participants in the legal process, we should be wary of claims that assert that no-fault divorce is “therapeutic” for divorcing couples or their children. Advocates for the sanctity of marriage across the globe should pay close attention to this shift.
Andrew Walker’s new book provides biblical-theological resources for navigating an increasingly anti-Christian culture in the West, especially the United States. Baptists have been here before, prior to the Act of Toleration in England and the First Amendment to the US Constitution. They flourished in the midst of hostility as a countercultural force for the common good. We can too.
Critical Race Theory rightly calls us to recognize that the effects of sin can be magnified throughout the institutions and social structures erected by individuals, leading to social systems that embody unjust racial prejudices. However, by focusing on sin as embodied with or without intent in social systems, proponents of CRT lose sight of what makes sin so wrong in the first place: that individuals who bear a moral accountability before God break his moral law.
Every “no” to the state in the name of religious conscience is predicated on a greater “yes” to a power higher than the state.
Scientific evidence is vital to public policy, but science does not offer a repository of neutral evidence that arrives ready-made onto the political scene. Using science to make policy decisions is complex, requiring not only expert judgment but also the judgment of those nonexperts whose experience, knowledge, and know-how is needed to deliberate well about the best course of action.
Joseph’s service to Pharaoh provides important lessons to Jews and Christians considering roles in government in an increasingly pagan America. Today, we neither reign from the throne in Jerusalem nor cower in the catacombs of Rome. Is there a place for us in the palace of Egypt?
Nations have cultural and moral foundations, and religion is historically at their core. The secular multiculturalist fails to see why a Christian and a Muslim cannot agree to disagree and fall into peaceable line in a republic. This is because he imagines Christians and Muslims who do not take their respective faiths seriously. Only if neither adheres to basic principled claims of their faiths is it plausible to imagine all potential religious and cultural conflict between the two disappearing.
Policy can tax vice and remunerate virtue. But policy cannot do what churches, fathers, mothers, friends, and coworkers can do, which is to invite individuals into fruitful, sacrificial communities.
Openness to love is the only satisfying defense against the supposed conflict between private happiness and the common good, the only thing that can convert the common good from an abstraction to a lived reality. The most important element of the common good, therefore, is that all of the members of the community regard themselves, somehow, as friends.
Yuval Levin is right that we need a “party of the Congress,” a group of members who are committed to exercising the constitutional powers of the House and Senate, not just competing against the opposing party. Because the House is the weaker of the institutional links, the only way the institution of Congress will have a chance to be strengthened is if a “party of the Congress” forms in that chamber. This will require opening up House rules to give rank-and-file members greater opportunities for success as entrepreneurial bipartisan legislators.
In Andrew Walker’s new book, religious liberty is presented less as a political doctrine than as a description of reality itself. In this view, religious liberty is the logical consequence of an orthodox view of God as the transcendent horizon of all human effort and a view of human beings as agents with consciences not subject to direct political coercion.
LGBT lobby groups do not want to “live and let live.” They want their interests to live and the interests of religious conservatives to die. They are playing to win. Religious conservatives must do the same.
The Civics Secures Democracy Act will give the federal bureaucracy tremendous leverage to influence state and local decisions about civics education content and administration, thus making them less responsive to the people. This is an anti-civics civics bill that will stoke the fires of discord and alienation.