Bruce Frohnen

Bruce Frohnen is Professor of Law at the Ohio Northern University College of Law. He is also a senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center and author of many books including The New Communitarians and the Crisis of Modern Liberalism, and the editor of Rethinking Rights (with Ken Grasso), and The American Republic: Primary Source. His most recent book (with the late George Carey) is Constitutional Morality and the Rise of Quasi-Law (Harvard, 2016).

recent articles

No Blue Wave, Yet Troubles Are Ahead

Last night’s election returns were not a total disaster for people of faith, or for Catholics in particular. Republicans actually increased their majority in the Senate, which means that President Trump’s uniformly textualist judicial nominees will continue to be confirmed. This is very good news regarding the Constitution, and with it for people committed to … Read more

The Accidental Justice

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s tenure on the Supreme Court was filled with irony. Had it not been for the smear campaign that defeated Judge Robert Bork’s nomination and the withdrawal of Judge Douglas Ginsburg’s nomination because of past drug use, Kennedy never would have risen to the judicial power he used with such gusto. Sadly less … Read more

How Christianity Civilized Mankind

Anyone who knows anything about the Judeo-Christian tradition (an increasingly small group, I know) is aware that the Hebrew law “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was intended to limit the bloodthirsty drive for vengeance. As Saint Augustine observed, “For who will of his own accord be satisfied with a … Read more

The West’s War on the Family

For decades, now, Christians have worried about the progressive push to strip naked the public square by forcing religion into the shadows of a private sphere. Recent events have made clear that this is not the case. Everything is public and political to the secular left. All aspects of our lives are fair game in … Read more

Should Christians Apologize for the Crusades?

One of the more ignorant bits of political correctness subverting our cultural memory is the movement to ban the Crusader mascot from schools. A number of schools already have caved in to the pressure to eliminate such a “divisive” or even “racist” mascot, and some, I am quite sure, were happy to lead the way … Read more

The Little Sister’s Last Stand for Religious Liberty

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. This is a case in which a small order of nuns is seeking exemption from an Obama Administration requirement that they help distribute free contraceptives and abortifacients (drugs that cause abortions) through their government-mandated healthcare plan. Why does … Read more

The State: From God, or the Devil?

A casual observer might be excused for believing that conservatives have a rather confused and conflicted view of the state. Albert J. Nock, a giant of early-twentieth-century conservatism, wrote a book titled Our Enemy the State. Yet Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, observed that “he who gave our nature to be perfected by our … Read more

The Flowering of Legal Cynicism

More than one commentator has noted that the majority decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, requiring states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, actually was decades in the making. No-fault divorce and our culture of sexual promiscuity, separating sex and even pregnancy from childbirth, inevitably dissolved the social consensus recognizing the natural family, including its children, … Read more

Has Christianity Become a Coward’s Religion?

Renaissance political thinker Niccolo Machiavelli castigated Christianity for making its adherents weak. Looking to the next world, he charged, Christians forget their public duties in this world, leaving their communities weak in the face of their enemies. Early Christian martyrs were hardly cowards. There were martyrs in Machiavelli’s day as well, and as I write … Read more

Is There a Wall of Separation Between Church and State?

Until 1947, few Americans knew about Thomas Jefferson’s comment, made in a private letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, that the First Amendment’s guarantee against a federally established church made a “wall of separation between church and state.” It was in that year, in the case of Everson v. Board of Education, that the Supreme Court … Read more

Obama vs. Little Sisters of the Poor

I have added my name to a friend of the court brief in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor vs. Burwell. Professor Nathanial Oman of the law school at William and Mary proposed and took the lead in writing this brief, which was joined by a number of concerned law professors. It was written … Read more

Conservative Choices: City, Town, or Suburb?

American conservatives traditionally have been suspicious of the city. The crowding, the anonymity, the fast pace, the dirt, and above all the attitude that one must “get on” or “move up” lest he be trampled underfoot all rankle those who see a good life more in terms of character and relationships than activities, entertainments, and … Read more

Republicans, the Pill, and the War on the Family

Why did Republicans do so well in the 2014 elections? Among the reasons emphasized by pundits and operatives on both sides of the political aisle has been the ability of Republican candidates to counter effectively the charge that they would escalate the so-called “war on women.” A key example cited by both left and right … Read more

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 … Read more

John Locke and the Dark Side of Toleration

“A Church then I take to be a voluntary Society of men, joining themselves together of their own accord, in order to the publick worshipping of God, in such a manner as they judge acceptable to him, and effectual to the Salvation of their Souls.”  ∼ John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration It seems likely … Read more

Abortion Coverage Mandates at Nominally Catholic Colleges

It seems only yesterday that the Supreme Court, in the Hobby Lobby case, held that the federal government cannot force Christian owners of closely held corporations to pay for employee health insurance coverage for abortion inducing drugs. After that case, some commentators predicted greater government respect for the rights of religious believers to refuse their … Read more

The Hobby Lobby Case: Good News, Not Great News

Many religious folk have been rejoicing at the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the case concerning the Obama Administration’s attempt to force Hobby Lobby and other religious businesses to pay for contraceptive and abortifacient drugs for their employees under Obamacare. The Court held that the Obamacare regulation forcing business owners … Read more

Why We Are Arguing About Religion

Most of us have been told from a young age that religious beliefs cause strife. The early modern “wars of religion” are portrayed as merely the most overt form of what happens when religion is allowed too much influence in public life. Of course, Protestant and Catholic forces fought on both sides of these conflicts. … Read more

Economic Inequality and the Hypocrisy of Power

That a French socialist economist is trashing the American economy for fomenting inequality should hardly be news. But Thomas Piketty is enjoying some moments in the popular press, before returning to the usual comfortable sinecure for the left—academia. Why? Well, we are told, economic inequality is on the march again, and must be stopped. Stopped … Read more

Ethnic Parishes, Catholic Schools and the Vocations Crisis

I am not terribly accustomed to attending bilingual masses. I’ve avoided them rather religiously (sorry) ever since my wife and I went to a Spanish-English mass on Ash Wednesday when she was very pregnant. After well over an hour and a half of hearing each part of the mass said in one language, then repeated … Read more

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