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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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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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Recovering the American Proposition with Peter Augustine Lawler

Built Better Than They Knew Studies endeavors to show that our practice of self-government rises above simplistic ideological reductions and achieves political equilibrium. From its beginnings, our country has been a blend of ideas, practices, and understandings of what it means to be a free and flourishing human person within community, local and national. That means that our theory must be sufficiently aware of a political practice that involves contrasting accounts of how Americans choose to be constitutional.

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Neither a Flatterer nor a Lockean Be: Peter Augustine Lawler as a Catholic Political Philosopher

Peter Augustine Lawler was a rich, dialectical, and irenic thinker who strove to prevent fruitful tensions from transforming into dangerously implacable oppositions. His wisdom was attuned to the needs of the late modern age. It has been nearly five years since his unexpected death at the age of sixty-five, and his wisdom remains just as needed now as it’s ever been.

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Prophets of the Radical Right

In a highly accessible and timely new book, Matthew Rose reflects on the criticisms of liberalism of five key thinkers on the “radical right.” He argues carefully and convincingly that, while often morally objectionable and politically utopian, their insights into the failures of liberalism need to be reckoned with by those who wish to preserve the global liberal order.

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Free Exercise and Conservative Judicial Overreach

During the Covid-19 pandemic, some judicial conservatives have eschewed the virtue of constraint in favor of an ahistorical and excessively libertarian notion of the free exercise of religion. To achieve the correct balance between liberty and order, and to prevent activist judges granting religious exemptions in areas outside of their expertise, conservatives should return to a more realistic view of the limited role of the courts in the regulation of religious practices.

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Is Democratic Debate Dead?

These days, major debates on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives are exceedingly rare. For members of Congress to behave as proper legislators, the institution as a whole should be reformed. Members must strike a new bargain with leadership in both chambers that gives them the space to debate and legislate. We should expect more of Congress, and members of Congress should expect more of each other.

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What Tolstoy Could Have Taught Putin

Based on Russia’s advantages in soldiers, tanks, and aircraft, Putin’s forces should have taken Kyiv, decapitated the Ukrainian government, and installed a pro-Russian regime in just a few days. But numbers aren’t everything. If they had paid closer attention to Russia’s greatest novel, War and Peace, Putin’s strategists might have been less surprised.

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The Marrow of Democracy

Andrew Doyle offers a splendid contribution to the ongoing debate over free speech, with a constructive approach that might surprise those familiar only with his Twitter alter ego. Though brief in length and focused on free speech in the West, the book is replete with thoughtful insights and relevant stories that provide the basis for his powerful advocacy of free expression.

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An Open Letter to HHS Secretary Becerra on Ending the Covid-19 Public Health “Emergency”

Human flourishing requires both public health and individual liberty and an appropriate balance between these goods when they conflict. We know that human beings flourish in community; we are social by nature. As such, we should not be surprised that government Covid-19 regulations mandating school closures, lockdowns, masking, and vaccination have isolated us from our fellow citizens and imposed significant attendant harms. It is time to declare this emergency over and once again let people take responsibility for themselves.

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Russia’s Unjust Attack and Ukraine’s Just War

A proper reading of the just war theory’s criteria clearly shows that Ukraine’s defensive war against Russia is just. Ukrainian armed forces and citizens have the right, and even the duty, to defend themselves in order to maintain their political independence and territorial integrity.

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