Constitutionalism and the Common Good

At National Review, Dan McLaughlin recently had a compelling takedown of the new push for “common good originalism.” That brand of originalism received a fuller explication yesterday in a joint statement at The American Mind from Hadley Arkes, Josh Hammer, Matthew Peterson and Garrett Snedeker. I’ll try to write about this in more detail in essay form, but the essential complaint against originalism is that it has failed to produce conservative policy ends. Originalism’s focus on text and intent rather than natural law earns its defenders the dreaded epithet of “positivist,” which is loosely, and wrongly, deployed as a synonym … Continue reading Constitutionalism and the Common Good

Constitutionalism in Congress

I agree with George that constitutionalism has eroded in Congress in addition to the presidency. That seems most evident when Congress sues the executive branch, thereby asking the courts to confront the bully on the block as opposed to flexing its own institutional muscle. It is also evident in the House’s decision to attempt to extort Mike Pence into invoking the 25th Amendment before exercising the impeachment power. The threat there seems to be: Do your job or we’ll do ours. Setting aside whether the 25th Amendment is an appropriate solution for the current crisis, impeachment has the advantage of … Continue reading Constitutionalism in Congress

Dear Originalists: Are You Better Off Today than You Were Four Years Ago?

As the Trump Presidency unravels, with the country quite seriously contemplating whether it can endure not another four years but rather another nine days of it, it is worth asking originalists Ronald Reagan’s question: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? The Capitol that represents the republican essence of constitutional government will, for the foreseeable future, be a fortress protecting American leaders from American seditionists. Its windows are smashed, its halls have been desecrated and, most important, the members of Congress who occupy it endured a several-hour siege in which the president of the United States … Continue reading Dear Originalists: Are You Better Off Today than You Were Four Years Ago?