Understood as an expression of the common law commitments on which it was built, our Constitution still supplies common terms in which we might re-transform our civic discourse into something rational and productive. The second in a two-part series.
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.
Justice is something we must establish every day—in the way we live with others, in the way we speak humbly and attend to all the facts patiently, in deference to reality and the truth of things.
Our Constitution is not just positive law, stipulated and contingent on political will. American constitutions do incorporate pre-positive law, often expressly. And that law is neither mere text, nor axioms, nor political ideals. The first in a two-part series.
The country’s ruling elites misunderstood or ignored the concerns of a significant segment of the electorate. The Great Revolt suggests that those elites should move beyond lamenting the misfortune (to them) of Trump’s elevation to the presidency and ponder the mistakes on their part that made it possible.
Jonah Goldberg makes a fundamental mistake by tossing out God in the opening sentence of his latest book, Suicide of the West.
Though Legislated Rights is primarily written for legal philosophers, it bears important lessons for all who work to secure human rights in law. It challenges conventional views about the supremacy of courts in specifying and vindicating rights, arguing that legislatures can best accomplish this task.
Virtue ethics can help originalism maintain its integrity.
Can nationalistic love of one’s country be integrated into a moral framework of universal human dignity? Yoram Hazony’s new book tackles this question, but his answer is unsatisfying.
The Catholic Church insists that even popes have no authority to introduce novel doctrines. To teach that capital punishment is inherently immoral would manifestly be a novel doctrine—not simply going beyond but explicitly contradicting what the Church, scripture, and tradition have taught for two millennia.
Americans need to pay attention to what is happening to the Uyghurs in western China. Failure to respond to the crisis could result in profound human suffering and damage to America’s strategic interests.
We might call Neil Gorsuch a natural law originalist: a jurist who believes that the content, motivation, form, and impact of the Constitution that he’s called upon to uphold and of the laws he must fairly interpret are—for the most part—sound expressions of the account of human good and human dignity to which he subscribes.
The political theory of the American founding is not quite the “cure for what ails us,” but, as Thomas G. West’s books demonstrate, it can serve as a kind of preventive medicine against the psychological sickness of radical individualism.
Removing religious exemptions will not promote tolerance or inclusiveness. It will forcibly strip religious organizations of their ability to operate as religious organizations.
The problem with modernity’s conquest of nature is that it works toward obliterating the distinction between creature and creator, a distinction that is essential for maintaining a humane and non-totalitarian politics.
The new antiliberals are not wrong to worry about the dire state of American politics and culture. But they persistently fail to adequately ask, much less clearly answer, three pressing questions that must be part of any adequate treatment of the problem, and they virtually ignore the thoughtful conservative alternatives to antiliberalism that do address these questions.
All human beings share certain universal human rights. But I am not just a human. I am also an American, a Kansan, a university instructor, and a member of a church body. Each one of these relationships generates specific goods, rights, and responsibilities that are unique to me. The same is true for nation-states, each of which have a distinct culture and unique responsibilities to its own citizens.
Is there room in Canada for a “distinctly Christian” law school? Not unless it conforms to judicially determined “shared values,” according to the Supreme Court of Canada. But shouldn’t communities be permitted to hold different sets of values in a free and democratic society?
Though our political institutions are designed to be secular and non-sectarian, our laws rest on Christian ideas about what we owe each other as human beings made in the image and likeness of God.
Stephen Greenblatt’s new book is broad-ranging, accessibly written, and nominally dedicated to an interesting topic: tyranny in the work of William Shakespeare. Unfortunately, too much of the author’s energy is dedicated to expressing disdain for a particular contemporary politician in a way that detracts from his declared purpose.
Thomas More’s dying words teach us that zeal for God is compatible with loving, even zealous, service to less than utopian political rulers and realms.
Loving America well means taking her seriously—working to preserve what is lovely about her and to fix what is not.
We can’t undo the past, but we can avoid repeating its mistakes. Here’s how.
As the late Justice Scalia was fond of pointing out, the views of individual lawmakers in the midst of debate are not themselves the law we must interpret. Neither are the votes taken in a deliberative body rightly viewed as votes on anyone’s interpretation of the text under discussion. The text that they passed, not what they said about what they passed, is the law.
The majority’s refusal to address the free speech issue in Masterpiece explains the intractability of debates over the scope of its free exercise ruling because, surprisingly, the two issues are linked. Two concurrences implicitly address the free speech issue. There the conservatives’ case is stronger, and supported explicitly by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor in dissent. In light of it, the Court’s Masterpiece ruling should provide robust protection for other creative professionals.
The pardon power is the most significant and strongest power of the president, and the Constitution places almost no limits on it. In using it, the president can unilaterally nullify the legitimate authority of the legislative and judicial branches.