Academic Freedom and Constitutionalism

Following Jeff, let me highlight the important work Keith Whittington has done in spearheading the Academic Freedom Alliance to protect and preserve academic freedom. I am also honored to be among the founding members.  But let me also highlight the link between education and constitutionalism. The modern American university and the American liberal arts college are, in many ways, outgrowths of American constitutionalism. These “learned institutions” are also a complement to American constitutionalism. Academic freedom is essential to the development of knowledge and truth, which help shape our political culture. This includes university education of a wide-ranging sort that includes things we do not usually associate … Continue reading Academic Freedom and Constitutionalism

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom for university and college faculty has been a concern and a problem for the past century. In recent years this continuing problem has been met with less resistance from professional organizations and societies than in the past. Faculty who are demoted or fired for expressing controversial views face daunting legal as well as social and political challenges. Keith Whittington, a Professor of Politics at Princeton, and author of an important recent book on free speech, Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech, has formed a new organization to fill the institutional void. I am honored to be … Continue reading Academic Freedom

Coming Around to Amending the Pardon Power

For what I think are essentially good reasons, I am dispositionally opposed both to constitutional amendments that react to contemporary controversies and to proposed reforms of the pardon power that seek to prevent abuse at the cost of its availability in cases of genuine need. But we also have a history of amendments—most clearly the 13th, 14th and 15th—that are motivated by the original ideals of the regime. Moreover, constitutional conservatism calls for prudence, not obstinacy.  In light of recent events—along with the memory of Bill Clinton’s midnight pardons—I’m coming around to Keith Whittington’s position, articulated here, that an amendment to reform … Continue reading Coming Around to Amending the Pardon Power