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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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Does Dobbs v. Jackson Threaten The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy?

The only way that we can really meaningfully grapple with the Supreme Court's legitimacy is to ask: what was it actually built to do? Roe was wrong. It had become the political equivalent of a black hole, totally devoid of substance, but with such immense gravity that it distorts everything around it. Abortion, of course, isn’t going away as a political issue. The difference now will be that instead of having debates about Roe, we’ll debate about abortion.

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Rediscovering Statesmanship

In The Statesman as Thinker, Mahoney seeks to restore principled statesmanship through portraits of six figures who combined political authority with uncommon reflection: Edmund Burke, Alexis de Tocqueville, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, and Václav Havel.

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Against Triumphalism: Augustinian Reflections on Political Enmity

Augustine’s message about the two cities in City of God has important implications for Christian political engagement today. By resisting a facile sorting of the good from the bad, he reminds his Christian readers that their own transformation is far from complete and so helps them work for earthly peace in a spirit of humility.

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Conservative Family Policy Must Be Conservative

As conservatives become more interested in family policy, they should avoid two extremes: rebutting any use of government, on the one hand, and on the other hand, assuming that trillions can be spent without negative repercussions. A social insurance model like the Family Security Act 2.0 strikes this balance: it provides modest but worthwhile support and preserves families’ authority to determine their own work-life balance.

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Three Responses to “Hopeful Realism”

The evangelical embrace of natural law must continue to mature, and “hopeful realism” is a meaningful step forward in this respect. However, a postliberal would be quick to detect some slippage in the authors' statements about the most important common political good that must guide any functional society: its religious vision. Additionally, one area for further development in their proposal is a more explicit basis for how their proposal is “evangelical.”

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Hopeful Realism: Renewing Evangelical Political Morality

Throughout the twentieth century, American evangelicals have neglected the natural law tradition, leaving us without a serious and coherent grounding for our political deliberations and judgments. We need a theologically grounded framework that articulates our principled and prudential convictions, provides us the language with which to deliberate about them amid disagreement, and helps find commonality around real goods. We believe that a revitalized Augustinian natural law theory can help provide such a framework for evangelical Christians.

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Conservatism’s Enduring Debates

Matthew Continetti’s new book offers an authoritative account of the complex interplay between conservative ideas, politics, and policy over the past century. His telling of conservative history suggests that if we want to know the movement’s future, we should first look to its past.

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The Supreme Court Reins in the Administrative State

Administrative rules don’t require broad consensus, so they don’t enjoy the benefits of a diverse group’s deliberations. Instead, they reflect the will of the president or administrators. It falls to the Supreme Court to defend Congress’s authority to legislate against the encroachment of the administrative state. Thankfully, the Supreme Court recently did just this in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Michael Oakeshott’s Conservative Disposition

Though often unconventional and concerned with ideas outside the mainstream of contemporary political conversations, Michael Oakeshott’s reflections on politics and human conduct continue to provide a profound and humane source of inspiration for western liberalism. In an age in which freedom and individuality are increasingly under threat, his vision of a flourishing human life—discovering and developing individual character in the midst of traditional practices—remains more relevant and necessary than ever.

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Another Chink in the Armor of Legal Discrimination against Religious Schools

In Carson v. Makin, the Supreme Court held that Maine’s exclusion of faith-based schools from a tuition assistance program for students in rural districts violated the Free Exercise Clause. The case, which is in many ways the culmination of a battle for equal treatment of faith-based schools spanning more than a century and a half, has significant implications for education policy.

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Maritain for Our Time: Three Responses to Nathaniel Peters

Christians today should participate in efforts to preserve our polity and ensure that our laws, policies, and political actions hew as closely to truth as possible in our time and context. But we need to acknowledge the potential limitations of our time and seek ways to make the case for truth in terms that our fellow citizens might accept. We should also recognize that the society for which are striving is unlikely to be much better than what we have had in America. To the extent we desire more we should seek it in the Church.

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The Magnificence of Dobbs

Dobbs may be the most important, magnificent, rightly decided Supreme Court case of all time. It is restorative of constitutional principle. It upholds the values of representative, democratic self-government, and the rule of law, at the same time that it supports the protection of fundamental human rights. It is literally a matter of life and death. It is potentially transformative of American society, for the better. It is a rare act of judicial courage and principle. In every way, Dobbs is a truly great decision.

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Maritain for Our Time

The past half century has seen the breakdown of institutional Christianity on which Jacques Maritain’s political project relied. Nonetheless, the limits of his thought do not vitiate the valuable insights Maritain offers for Christian politics in the twenty-first century. He reminds us that politics is about how to order our life together, not just creating ideals or defeating our enemies. He teaches us that we can order a society toward the temporal truths of Christianity, but that the temporal power of the state is no substitute for the spiritual power of the faith.

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A Three-Step Program for Originalism

While some legal scholars have criticized the recently leaked draft Dobbs majority opinion on the basis that it is not originalist, they are overlooking two important points—originalism contains a place for stare decisis (i.e., legal precedent) and American constitutional practice is currently an eclectic mix of originalist and nonoriginalist aspects.

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Human Rights, the China Challenge, and American Foreign Policy: A Conversation with Peter Berkowitz

The aim of our Constitution is to secure freedom in America by securing rights. The aim of American foreign policy should be to secure freedom at home, with a view to opportunities and threats abroad. We must always ask: what’s the best mix of military might, economic power, diplomacy, and championing of human rights that enables us to secure freedom at home and maintain a free and open international order?

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Dobbs and the Pro-Life Future

The prospect of a post-Roe America calls not only for celebration, but also for a realistic appraisal of the road ahead, which will require the pro-life movement to rebuild itself as a movement that goes beyond partisan divisions and that also helps create a social, political, and economic order in which life is encouraged and supported.

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