U.S. Constitution

The Sexual Revolution Turns Ugly

How many intellectuals have come to the revolutionary party via the path of moral indignation, only to connive ultimately at terror and autocracy? ∼ Raymond Aron The Sexual Revolution is now out of control. Initially promising freedom, like all revolutions, it has entered something like its Reign of Terror phase and is devouring its own children. As with [...]

How to Curtail Judicial Activism

I hear frequently in this year’s election campaign that Supreme Court appointments should be the key consideration in the choice between the presidential candidates. That’s certainly understandable, and perhaps true. It reflects, however, an unfortunate attitude—widespread and deeply ingrained in the American psyche—that the Court is somehow the ultimate, sovereign institution in the United States. [...]

Are We Still A Nation of Laws?

Recent weeks have seen a sudden slew of bureaucratic and judicial action on the question of public accommodation of self-identified transgendered individuals. In one of the latest moves, a decision from the Fourth Federal Circuit struck down a Virginia school board ruling that children must use the bathroom corresponding to their biological sex. As Hadley [...]

What to Look for in a Supreme Court Justice

As we brace ourselves for the political firestorm that is already beginning around filling the vacancy on our highest court, it would be useful to engage in a little “cultural catechesis” on the nature and purpose of the office in question. Though some will decry the “politicization” of the selection process, an honest review of [...]

How Scalia Inspired a Generation to Defend the Constitution

The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at age 79 of natural causes Saturday in Texas is an ideal occasion to reflect on the profound influence he had on the legal profession and, by extension, the nation. Astute observers of academic life in America know that the law professoriate has long been dominated [...]

The Requirements of the Law

As a full-time parish priest and an armchair theologian, it gives me great pleasure to rub shoulders—from time to time—with real theologians, and to plagiarize some of their ideas. One of them observed, “The Church teaches doctrine, not theology.” The thought was provocative enough to open many intellectual doors for me as I began to [...]

A Constitutional Defense of Marriage

If marriage were simply a form of sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership, then the equal protection clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment would require the Supreme Court to strike down state laws limiting marriage licenses to male-female partners. There would be no principled basis for distinguishing opposite- from same-sex relationships—or, for that matter, from multiple-party [...]

U.S. Constitution’s Preamble Upholds Traditional Marriage

On April 28, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Obergefell v. Hodges and three other cases, testing the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex “marriage” and state refusals to recognize existing same-sex “marriages.” The outcome may well impose same-sex “marriage” on the entire United States of America, much as Roe v. [...]

Latest News Events Suggest U.S. Constitution a Dead Letter

February 2015 did not just feature bitter cold in the eastern half of the U.S., but was a news-laden month that provided a window on a large number of our contemporary social, political, and cultural troubles. Heading the list was the continuing saga of big and increasingly threatening government in the Age of Obama. Early [...]

Obama’s Immigration Decree

President Barack Obama’s reaction to the shellacking he and his policies received from the American people in the midterm elections surprised no one in its stubborn petulance. Along with some eye rolling and clearly perfunctory statements about how he would “cooperate” with the new Republican majority, President Obama made clear that he sees himself as [...]

Is there a Rational Legal Basis for Traditional Marriage?

Many people believe that the momentum to legalize same-sex marriage in all states is now unstoppable—not because all states would do it on their own but because the federal courts seem determined to impose it by judicial decision. A series of district-court judges, claiming to follow the Supreme Court’s decision striking down federal marriage law [...]

A New Declaration of Independence

Twelve score minus two years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent ... something that no longer exists. In 2014, Independence Day is more commonly called the Fourth of July—a Jacobin rather than a Christian practice, naming holidays after dates. (Imagine celebrating the 25th of December.) The rhetorical shift reflects an underlying reality. Lost [...]

The Real Lessons of Prohibition

In October, 1919, a heavily “progressive” Congress passed the Volstead Act enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting, for almost all purposes, the production, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages. There are two things everybody has learned from Prohibition. First, it is wrong to try to legislate morality. Second, you cannot do it, for Prohibition failed. But [...]

Whose Will Shall Rule?

For decades, now, the universe of constitutional interpretation has been divided into “textualists,” who argue that the document must be read according to the reasonable meaning of its words, and those who argue for a “living” constitution, the meaning of which can “grow” over time to “meet the needs of a changing people and nation.” [...]

Court’s Approval of Obamacare Shows Contempt for the Constitution

Last week’s marathon speech-fest (it wasn’t really a filibuster) from Senator Ted Cruz probably won’t do much to change the dynamic of politics in Washington or to stop Obamacare from becoming the last brick in the wall of social democracy separating Americans from their traditions of self-reliance and local community control. But, to someone interested [...]

Interpreting Scripture & the U.S. Constitution

Jesus told his disciples in his famous Sermon on the Mount: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Commonly known as “the golden rule,” this maxim has formed the bedrock of Western ethics for two millennia and is widely considered by philosophers to constitute the essence of the moral law. Yet, [...]

What a Constitution Can, and Can’t, Do

I was at a conference recently on the relationship between constitutionalism and liberty.  There were quite a few very smart and learned people there.  Two things struck me in particular from the conversations we had over several days:  first, how little faith scholars today seem to have in constitutional structures, and, second, how little faith [...]

Catholicism Offers the U.S. a Vision of the Good Life

American political institutions give us all part of the responsibility for how we are governed. Catholics need to carry out that responsibility in accordance with their best understanding of man, society, and American political life. The Catholic understanding of man and society is reasonably well worked out, but the nature of American political life is [...]

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