Legislative Oversight is Fine

Thanks to Greg Weiner for calling our attention to the recent provocative column by George Will on legislative oversight of the media ecosystem. I am a long time fan and a friend of George Will. The issues he raises here, and almost always, are worth taking very seriously. But there are two serious errors in this column. The first mistake is to stipulate in advance that there is no legislative oversight role for the problem of a polluted media ecosystem because it is hard to envision legislative solutions. Oversight hearings are useful precisely because they help the citizenry understand what … Continue reading Legislative Oversight is Fine

On Civic Education

Ben Kleinerman recently posted a link to an article about the Jack Miller Center, its programs, and its grants which include funding for this publication. The organization is a wonderful success story for American civic education and I am delighted to be affiliated with it and pleased that Ben has highlighted it. However, I don’t think that Ben does justice to the excellence of the Jack Miller Center effort or to our aspirations for this site. Ben’s description would likely resonate well with many affiliated with these efforts — so my criticism is not of Ben, personally, but of the … Continue reading On Civic Education

The Limits of Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell’s speech after the vote to acquit Donald Trump was astounding. It was so damning and unequivocal in endorsing the case that Trump had indeed abused his office by inciting an insurrection that many of us stared at the television in disbelief. How could a Senator vote to acquit if he was so prepared and persuaded to make an argument as compelling the House manager’s own closing speeches? The fact of McConnell’s speech will help render the historical meaning of this impeachment different from all prior presidential impeachments. Trump may have been acquitted. But he lost. He lost big. … Continue reading The Limits of Mitch McConnell

Jeffrey Isaac On Political Asymmetries (and Evaluative Standards in Journalism)

Earlier this month, Jeffrey Isaac, who is a professor at Indiana University and friendly contributor to The Constitutionalist, wrote a great short analysis for Common Dreams, about the problem of false equivalencies in American politics. Isaac’s article discusses the media’s treatment of Marjorie Taylor Greene, referring back to a profile by Jonathan Chait (“Marjorie Taylor Greene Blamed Wildfires on Secret Jewish Space Lazers”), as well as an odd Axios piece (“The Mischief Makers”) that tried to identify the most troublesome members of the two parties. Isaac’s piece is valuable because he pushes further than most on the problem of false … Continue reading Jeffrey Isaac On Political Asymmetries (and Evaluative Standards in Journalism)

“The Second Trump Impeachment” Panel with John Yoo, Ben Kleinerman, and Jeffrey Tulis

The video is here. It’s a spirited, informative, and entertaining exchange. If you don’t want to read the 80-page House report arguing for impeachment (although you still should), this would suffice as a substitute. Continue reading “The Second Trump Impeachment” Panel with John Yoo, Ben Kleinerman, and Jeffrey Tulis

House Managers’ Case for the Impeachment Trial

Ben Kleinerman and I participated in an interesting roundtable/debate with John Yoo on the upcoming impeachment trial, sponsored by the Constitutional Studies program at Notre Dame and James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia. It was recorded by Notre Dame and should be posted soon. John Yoo argued that the Article for inciting insurrection was crafted too narrowly and legalistically (read it yourself and you will see that it is a broad political charge of gross abuse of office beginning with events well before January 6, and I argue also bolstered by evidence of dereliction of duty on January 6) and Yoo … Continue reading House Managers’ Case for the Impeachment Trial

Yes, Americans need a break from politics. But not for long.

I respect my colleague Greg Weiner’s work very much. I learn from it, and my disagreements with him are usually about things that are both complicated and matter a great deal. And on that note I must say that I disagree with elements of the argument he presented this week quite strongly. I will even go so far as to say that I take issue with it! In short: Greg thinks that we need less politics, and I think we need more. Of course, this depends on what we both mean by politics.  If we set the bar at how … Continue reading Yes, Americans need a break from politics. But not for long.

Additional reflections, and some recommended readings, on Adrian Vermeule

I really enjoyed the piece by Barber, Macedo, and Fleming this week, about Adrian Vermeule and positive constitutionalism. They describe positive constitutionalism as constitutional thinking that focuses “on positive ends (including the economic and cultural conditions that foster respect for some negative liberties).” If I’m perfectly frank, I think this is the only sensible way to think about constitutionalism: even negative liberties exist for the sake of other, positive ends (like freedom of conscience, peace, flourishing, etc).  I said my own bit about Vermeule’s Atlantic piece via two Twitter threads back in March, which I replicate down below. At the … Continue reading Additional reflections, and some recommended readings, on Adrian Vermeule

Yes, a Trial is Constitutional

One of the stunning developments in recent days is the rush to embrace the notion that because Donald Trump is no longer in office, he cannot be tried for abuse of office for which he was successfully impeached during his time in office. This idea has been attractive to GOP Senators who do not wish to confront the assault on the constitutional order directly for fear of offending their supporters — including many supporters who are just fine with insurrection and violence. The conservative constitutional scholar Keith Whittington has detailed why original intent, original meaning, and the structure and values … Continue reading Yes, a Trial is Constitutional

In Defense of Hypocrisy: the Confusion of the 1776 Report and its Critics

Underlying the debate about the 1776 Report is the question as to the founders’ hypocrisy. The report states: “The most common charge leveled against the founders, and hence against our country itself, is that they were hypocrites who didn’t believe in their stated principles, and therefore the country they built rests on a lie. This charge is untrue and has done enormous damage…with a devastating effect on our civic unity and social fabric.” The Report’s critics point to this obvious contradiction more than almost anything else. How can the report have any integrity insofar as it claims the founders weren’t … Continue reading In Defense of Hypocrisy: the Confusion of the 1776 Report and its Critics