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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Yoram Hazony, “Conservative Democracy,” and the Classical Tradition of Reason and Liberty

If we are to correct the wayward course of contemporary democratic societies, we must preserve what is true and good and mitigate what is false and harmful in both liberalism and nationalism. We would do well to embrace core principles of the Anglo-American constitutional tradition—principles grounded in and sustained by the virtue of prudence.

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The Many Harms of Gender Identity Laws: A Mother of a Trans-Identifying Teen Speaks Out

All people should be protected from harassment and harm, no matter how they identify. But we as a society must be allowed to reasonably act on the basis of sex when medical treatment, privacy, and safety are at stake. If “gender identity” becomes a protected class, women and children are the ones who will suffer most.

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The Virtues of Judicial Self-Restraint

To faithfully apply the original public meaning of liberty protected by the Constitution—that is to say, to be a faithful originalist—one must acknowledge that both a contractarian view of individual liberty and a Whig view of the liberty to make laws were held by the founding generation.

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Rewilding Civil Society

In conservation biology, a complex ecosystem whose health was slowly compromised over time can be revivified through a cascade of positive changes set in motion by reintroducing one of that system’s previous components. That’s exactly what today’s civil society needs, and conservative policymakers can help. We mustn’t shy away from using policy to achieve important ends—not just freedom, but the lessons, beliefs, and norms that make a free society succeed.

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The Real Lesson of the Dust Bowl: Communities as Bulwarks Against Atomism and Statism

The alternative to the ideology of radical self-sufficiency is not reliance on the state, but the kind of community-based brotherly love and mutual aid that could be found even during midwestern American farmers’ darkest days. In the end, neither individuals nor governments, but communities, are the real vehicles for peace, harmony, and human flourishing.

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The Supreme Court Should Protect Unborn Children with Down Syndrome

This Friday, the Court will decide whether to review a case about an Indiana law that prohibits abortions performed solely because the unborn child has Down Syndrome or another disability. Regardless of our nation’s polarized views on the policy and politics of abortion, it is clear that our Constitution does not include a right to abort children merely because of disfavored characteristics.

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Church and State in a Time of Scandal

In the midst of a Church sex abuse scandal, many serious questions arise about the Church’s relationship to civil authorities. Any question of the state’s role or the freedom of the Church is obviously secondary to the moral urgency of ensuring that children are kept safe. Now is the time for the Church to contend deeply and thoroughly with its sins and to build structures consistent with the call to holiness.

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Intentional Killing Is a Usurpation of God’s Lordship Over Life: A Reply to Edward Feser

Public Discourse is launching two new features: short book notes and long form essays. They'll run occasionally, on Saturdays and Sundays. Today is our first longform essay. Enjoy.

Permission to own slaves and suppress false religions was taught by the Old Testament, never denounced by the New Testament, and accepted in word and deed for very long periods by popes, bishops, and saints. And yet the Church eventually repudiated such permission. So, too, with intentional killing in capital punishment. The fact that death is deserved and proportionate does not license the state or any human being to intend to impose it.

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Who Wants to Limit the Power of the Courts?

Perhaps the real source of liberal anxiety is not simply that a conservative-dominated Supreme Court will become activist in the opposite direction. Rather, a more far-reaching consequence for the American left would be a repositioning of the judicial branch as equal—not superior—to the legislative branch.

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How Slavery Is and Isn’t in the Constitution

There was an opportunity in 1787 to have torn up slavery by its roots, and that opportunity was missed. But the missing came as much through overconfidence that the march of opinion would wipe out slavery on its own, and as much through the miscalculations of political compromise, as through any conscious policy to foster or promote slavery.