Greg Weiner is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Assumption University. He is also a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a regular contributor for The Constitutionalist. The June round of Supreme Court decisions will help reveal … Continue reading Principle, not Institutionalism, at the Supreme Court
Ben Kleinerman has made a compelling case that the partisan reversal on constitutional authority for U.S. airstrikes in Syria shows the separation of powers at work. I have a friendly amendment, or at least one to propose: Ben’s case is true with two qualifications. First, the reversal should be institutional, not partisan. That is, members of Congress should question presidential authority as members of Congress, not based on partisan alignments for or against President Biden. If Democrats and Republicans who stay in Congress across changes in presidential administrations are situational constitutionalists based on who occupies the White House, Madison’s case … Continue reading Syrian Airstrikes: A Friendly Amendment to Ben Kleinerman’s Post?
The simplest explanation for the political cravenness of Donald Trump’s enablers is that they want to retain power. The corresponding puzzle is their reticence about using it: What is this power for if they are unwilling to exercise it in order to defend their branch of government? That is a large question with an extended history. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have long been reluctant to utilize the power at their disposal to defend legislative authority. Their go-to move is to ask the courts to adjudicate disputes between the executive and legislative branches instead. But the trend is reaching its apotheosis … Continue reading The Hoarding Compulsion in Politics
Susan McWilliams Barndt’s essay on preventing tyranny by making public office less appealing is characteristically incisive. I share her desire to make the presidency in particular less attractive. Susan, to be clear, wants to make public office unappealing for people who seek it for private gain—not for people who seek it for honorable purposes. I offer the following as a friendly amendment to see whether Susan would accept it. I don’t think the presidency is appealing primarily for venal reasons. Trump is an outlier in that regard. I do think it is appealing for other constitutionally unhealthy motives, including the excess power … Continue reading A Friendly Amendment to Susan McWilliams Barndt’s Essay
The caricature of Federalist 10 is that Madison aims to fracture majorities to prevent factious rule—what Tocqueville would later call “the tyranny of the majority.” That reading is wrong on several levels, including the fact that Madison never actively fractures anyone. He simply observes that the natural conditions of an extended republic make it difficult for majority factions to form or, if they do, to prevail. In his Preface to Democratic Theory, Robert Dahl spotted what he thought was a fatal flaw: “[N]o modern Madison has shown that the restraints on the effectiveness of majorities imposed by the facts of a pluralistic … Continue reading Federalist 10 and the Search for Common Ground