Expanding the Court

UPDATE: I stand by the concerns about adjusting the size of the Court, but I suspect I was hasty in criticizing the six-month deadline. The membership of the Commission is excellent, and I wish it well. I’m leaving the post in place below. President Biden has announced a 180-day commission that will study reforms of the Supreme Court, including expanding its membership and limiting justices’ terms. There may be good reasons for some of these. The roadblock that conservative justices present to progressive priorities right now is not among them. Consequently, the most revealing and disturbing aspect of the Biden … Continue reading Expanding the Court

“woke capitalism”

Is there anything more galling than conservatives deploying the phrase “woke capitalism”? When social democrats use the phrase as a term of derision, at least they are being consistent, since they were skeptics about unregulated capitalism from the get-go. But to hear conservatives, who have for decades lauded radical laissez-faire and fear-mongered about taxes, regulation, and campaign finance limits, suddenly do an about-face on capitalism the moment that the markets start to steer in substantive directions they find uncomfortable, is quite remarkable. To be sure, not all conservatives are against regulation (especially when it comes to their own areas of moral … Continue reading “woke capitalism”

Thoughts on Voting

I have an essay at Law and Liberty today discussing the multiple controversies surrounding voting reforms proposed by both sides. I argue that voting reforms should not make voting harder for some groups than for others, nor should they create gratuitous obstacles for anyone. But those reforms should preserve voting as a fundamentally civic and therefore public act, at least in normal circumstances. That is not to question the secret ballot. It is to say that the civic hustle and bustle of voting can help induce contemplation of the common good in a way that simply putting a stamp on … Continue reading Thoughts on Voting

Noblesse Oblige, the Class Divide, and Race

This divide isn’t soluble by simply lambasting the losers as uncivilized racists. Nor, on the other side, is it soluble by calling the winners “rodents” and “zombies,” as Glenn Ellmers did in his recent piece in The American Mind. I’m honestly not sure what the answer is except that I know, as my daughter would say, those aren’t it. I also know that it has to begin by us all admitting what is more and more obvious: there’s a deep class divide in America in which access from one side to the other is nearly insurmountable. Continue reading Noblesse Oblige, the Class Divide, and Race

Profound Weakness

I respectfully disagree with my thoughtful colleague, Greg Weiner, who just posted praise and elaboration for a recent piece by Matt Bai on the purported dilemma that faced Dr. Deborah Birx when she led the pandemic response for President Trump. She is described as wrestling with the problem of working for an incompetent and self-centered president while trying to advance public health and the common good. Her failure to tell the truth to the American people and to resign when sidelined by the president are depicted as a lack of prudence. That is undoubtedly true, but also so tame and … Continue reading Profound Weakness

To Mitigate or to Resign?

Matt Bai has an excellent column at The Washington Post on the dilemma Dr. Deborah Birx faced during the Trump Administration, especially in the early days of the pandemic: Unvarnished truth would have made her unable to mitigate the worst impulses of the president and his yes-men, while her participation gave a scientific veneer to policies she now says may have killed hundreds of thousands of people. The dilemma is genuinely difficult, and casual condemnation of Birx is a bit too easy. But I think Bai (who treats the dilemma seriously) ultimately has it right: Birx should have resigned. The … Continue reading To Mitigate or to Resign?

The Flight 93 Riot

Shep Melnick has an excellent essay at Law and Liberty on the “Claremont Institute’s Constitutional Crisis.” He rightly suggests we should think of the violent assault on the Capitol on January 6th as the “Flight 93 Riot” and looks at how the folks at the Claremont Institute seem intent on tearing down the Constitution while giving lip service to praising it.   Continue reading The Flight 93 Riot

Partisanship and War Powers

The decisive test case for the separation of powers is whether members of Congress will defend their branch of government even if a president of their own party occupies the White House. Might such a willingness be brewing? A story in The Washington Post reports that several Democratic members of Congress who pushed to reclaim legislative war powers under former President Trump are persisting under President Biden. The most encouraging explanation of their intentions came from Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who promised “civil dialogue” with the White House on matters like repealing the post-9/11 Authorization for Use of … Continue reading Partisanship and War Powers

The Dignity of Work and the Class Divide in America

Bonnie Honig’s outstanding essay for us a couple of days ago suggests that we ought appreciate the intrinsic dignity of work. Our society, however, doesn’t always appreciate that dignity. She writes: “‘Care-work’ or manual labor is “treated as ‘low,’ and it is not paid properly. Providers are often anonymized and rewarded for their labors with job insecurity and vulnerability.” This lack of dignity, reward, or even security for manual labor has been revealed with real clarity by the quarantine. The events of January 6th and the excessive politicization of mask-wearing obscured what the quarantine should have taught us about this … Continue reading The Dignity of Work and the Class Divide in America

On nuking (or reforming) the filibuster

I’ve been thinking more than usual about the filibuster lately, for a lot of obvious reasons. I think one of the things at the root of current political unrest is persistent government failure and obstructionism. The US Constitution already makes it pretty difficult to pass legislation, but the filibuster makes it that much more so. Does abolishing the filibuster makes sense from a constitutional perspective, given the fact that it has been part of normal legislative procedure for so long now? What implications would abolishing it have for bi-partisanship? And how much does the origin and history of the filibuster … Continue reading On nuking (or reforming) the filibuster