Asymmetrical Illiberalism

Jonathan Rauch and Peter Wehner have a terrific essay in The New York Times today about the asymmetry between left and right illiberalism, the former of which is a serious problem while the latter of which is a direct threat to the constitutional order. The power of the essay lies in the fact that, in concluding that illiberalism on the right is more dangerous, it does not downplay or excuse illiberalism on the left. From the essay: Fears about the left’s increasingly authoritarian, radical tendencies are well grounded; but they have blinded many conservatives to the greater danger posed by … Continue reading Asymmetrical Illiberalism

Voting Rights or Bust!

The New York Times reports: “In an embarrassing setback for Mr. Biden, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, stunned her colleagues just hours before the president was slated to make his case to them in person at the Capitol by taking the Senate floor to declare that she would not support undermining the filibuster to pass legislation under any circumstances.” Senator Sinema disappointed colleagues and citizens who had hoped for progress on passing legislation to protect voting rights. But Sinema “was cheered by Republicans who credited her with nothing less than protecting the Senate.” Why has President Biden and Senate … Continue reading Voting Rights or Bust!

The Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment 

There’s a terrific symposium on an important new book by Randy Barnett and Evan Bernick, The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit, at Law and Liberty. It’s especially interesting because much of the focus of Barnett and Bernick’s book is rightly on the Privileges or Immunities clause, which should have pride of place in Section 1 of the amendment. Yet it’s been neglected by the Court, and even dismissed by Justice Scalia as the “darling of the professoriate” (an odd move for a putative originalist). The essays engaging the book—especially by Christopher Green, Julia Mahoney, and Ilan Wurman—are really … Continue reading The Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment 

Avoiding the Chaos of a Another Jan 6

There’s a great We the People podcast, from the National Constitution Center with Jeffrey Rosen, on reforming the Electoral Count Act: https://constitutioncenter.org/debate/podcasts It clearly outlines the problems with the Act and how it could be reformed to avoid the sort of ambiguities that were exploited in the 2020 election. It’s with Ned Foley and Brad Smith who co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post along with Michael McConnell and Richard Pildes: “to avoid a repeat of Jan. 6, or worse, Congress must rewrite the Electoral Count Act, the outmoded 1887 law that governs the certification of the presidential vote. There is a pressing need … Continue reading Avoiding the Chaos of a Another Jan 6

Recent Writing

I’ve published a couple of recent essays. One was at Law and Liberty and dealt with how conservatives should view January 6. It might be interesting to those who have followed the excellent conversation on January 6 on this blog. The second, which appears in the winter edition of National Affairs, deals with a topic that has interested me for several years: the tension between Enlightenment science and Enlightenment politics. Long story short, the former seeks control while the latter seeks liberty. The essay is called “Liberty and the Conquest of Chance” and is available here. Continue reading Recent Writing

A Short Response to Ben Kleinerman on the Republican Party, Jeff Isaac

I appreciate the attention that both Jeff Tulis and Ben Kleinerman have given to my piece! The topic is an important one, and the discussion here is a good one. It is clear that Ben and I have a fundamental difference of opinion on a matter of political judgment: the nature of the current Republican party. We could argue about this for weeks. There is now a substantial body of commentary, by distinguished students of comparative politics, about how the Republican party has become for all intents and purposes an “anti-system party.” I could cite this literature, and explain why … Continue reading A Short Response to Ben Kleinerman on the Republican Party, Jeff Isaac

More on January 6

After his superb speech, President Biden was asked questions by reporters in the hallway of the Capitol. Some had questions born of Ben Kleinerman’s perspective. Ben praised the end of the speech where Biden called for unity and healing. A reporter asked whether that was inconsistent with the bulk of the speech. How can you ask people to heal and unify after you had skewered the former President? Biden’s response was that before one can heal one has to face up to the wound. The January 6 investigation in Congress, the Vice President’s speech, the President’s speech, the Attorney General’s … Continue reading More on January 6

Partisanship, the Big Lie, and January 6th

Jeff claims that Jeff Isaac’s essay rebuts my arguments regarding Biden’s speech. It seems to me that his essay actually illustrates, rather than rebuts, my claims. Both Jeffs seem to appreciate and admire the speech. Jeff Isaac calls it “terrific” in that it “renew[ed] the fight to defend democracy.” As I said in my previous post, I too want to defend democracy. The question is, however, how we go about doing that. Isaac wants to fight for the Constitution, but, for him, continuing that fight apparently means fighting the entire Republican party. He writes: “The most important of aspect of … Continue reading Partisanship, the Big Lie, and January 6th