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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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A Healthy Secularity Is Possible: A Response to Scott Hahn and Brandon McGinley

Catholic citizens can hope for a society where the faith is more broadly shared, but we cannot escape the responsibility of political deliberation about our society as it is—riddled with its pluralism and confusion—not as we would have it be. A healthily secular society can acknowledge the freedom of the Church and a positive role for the Church in society, understanding that the state is rightly focused on natural norms and goods, not supernatural ones.

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Building a Catholic “Civilization of Love”: A Response to Nathaniel Peters

Why must a “serious Catholic politics” tolerate a regime that worships the profit motive and carnal pleasure but recoil from one that worships the Blessed Trinity? Why is it sophisticated to ask the state to recognize truth of supply and demand but simplistic to ask that the state recognize the truth of the sacraments?

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It Is Right and Just Offers Inspiration, Not Serious Catholic Politics

In their new book, Scott Hahn and Brandon McGinley provide a rousing exhortation for Catholics to unapologetically live out their faith. Unfortunately, the book contains too many generalizations, overstatements, and imprecisions to be a thoughtful guide to Catholic politics. Any serious Catholic politics must recognize that the problem of pluralism cannot be solved by dominating non-Catholics and imposing our view of the good on them.

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The Unsoundness and Imprudence of “Common-Good Originalism”

After decades of struggle, the conservative judicial project has finally produced a possible working majority of five originalists on the Supreme Court. There are plenty of reasons to wonder how consistently they will coalesce in practice and how willing they will be to revisit wrong precedent. But trashing Antonin Scalia’s originalism and replacing it with Josh Hammer’s idiosyncratic, results-oriented version isn’t likely to help matters.

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Child Allowances Reduce Abortion

One feature of Mitt Romney’s Child Allowance proposal has been critically under-billed: the extremely high likelihood that it would reduce the abortion rate. Conservatives arguing that a rise in single parenthood is an unacceptable cost of a child allowance are necessarily arguing, as a corollary, that some of those children instead being aborted is an acceptable cost of the current policy regime. But if abortion is murder, then keeping single parenthood down by murdering the infants is surely not an optimal anti-poverty policy.

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Toward a New Jurisprudential Consensus: Common Good Originalism

Common good originalism is the best constitutional complement to a politics of a conservative restoration. It is ordered toward a profoundly and distinctly conservative politics that elevates the concerns of nation, community, and family over the one-way push toward ever-greater economic, sexual, and cultural liberationism.

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Toward a New Consensus: An Invitation

The editors of Public Discourse invite conservatives of various schools to participate in the debates that will best advance our common cause. We believe that disagreement is not something to avoid. In fact, a real and productive disagreement is an accomplishment. Civilization, in the end, is formed by men and women “locked together in argument.”

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Timely Lessons from the Sack of Rome

If Christians truly believe that we are charged with protecting a moral vision in our country, then we must recognize that this vision cannot be imposed by force. If we want to remain more than an interest group, we must stop treating our first amendment rights as freedoms from interference and start treating them as freedoms for witness, laden with obligations of love.

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A Tax Policy for the Common Good: Renew the CARES Act’s Charitable Tax Deduction Permanently

Do we really want a tax system that encourages very wealthy individuals to give money to the arts but does not encourage middle-class taxpayers to give money to local, religiously affiliated soup kitchens? That is the system we will have if the CARES Act’s above-the-line charitable tax deduction is not renewed.

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Why We Plan to Get Vaccinated: A Christian Moral Perspective

It is not possible to properly love a person and act so as to unnecessarily jeopardize their health. If by the minimal burden of wearing a mask, we can potentially protect others from grave illness, then it seems we have a moral obligation to wear a mask. The same can be said for COVID-19 vaccinations. If by being vaccinated we can protect others from illness, then we have a corresponding obligation, given our Lord’s command to love neighbors, to be vaccinated. Vaccinations not only protect me, but also protect other vulnerable members of society.

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