Justice Kagan

This is a pleasant piece on Justice Kagan, where the Justice discusses her Jewish background, an interesting upcoming Supreme Court case peripherally involving religion, and a hunting trip with Justice Scalia. — MOD

New Issue of the Journal of Catholic Legal Studies

The Journal of Catholic Legal Studies at St. John’s University School of Law (which I am privileged to advise) has just published its new issue, which contains a symposium dealing with the question, “Whom Should a Catholic Law School Honor?” and a book symposium on Professor Robert Vischer’s Conscience and the Common Good: Reclaiming the Space Between Person and State (CUP 2009).  — MOD

Classic Revisited: Cord’s Separation of Church and State

It can sometimes seem as if we in the 21st century are in a state of greater confusion — greater uncertainty and greater disagreement — than prior generations about the nature of our constitutional commitments.  And yet often this is not so at all.  One example involves the perennial academic contestation about the meaning of the Establishment Clause, which has a rich history all its own.

Today’s classic revisited is Robert Cord’s Separation of Church and State: Historical Fact and Current Fiction, first published thirty-odd years ago in 1982 (unfortunately, I cannot find an image for the book cover).  Cord argued that the strict separationism championed by scholars like Leo Pfeffer a generation before (who was himself engaged in a protracted debate with James O’Neill) simply did not represent a sound understanding of the original meaning of the Establishment Clause.  Cord’s was a strike for the “non-preferentialist” interpretation, and it is an account well-worth reading not only for the evidence that Cord marshals, but also for its historiographic importance — as a scholarly moment in the perpetual conflict over the proper relationship between church and state.  Take a look at Cord!  — MOD

The Retributivist Tradition and Its Future: A Conference at St. John’s on November 4

If you are in or about New York City on November 4, please consider attending The Retributivist Tradition And Its Future at St. John’s University School of Law.  The conference will take up many of the chapters in Retributivism: Essays on Theory and Policy (Mark D. White, ed., 2011).  My own small contribution to the conference, which I’m still chewing over, might be titled something like, “The Retributivst Tradition As Its Future.”

The conference description follows and the program is after the jump.  Hope you can make it. 

Retributivism as a justification of punishment is a very old idea, with sources in ancient codes of religious law and morality. After a period of dormancy in the 20th century, retributivism is now ascendant again as a theory of punishment, as scholars have reinterpreted the commitment to just desert in novel and provocative ways.

This conference, The Retributivist Tradition and Its Future, brings together leading thinkers in punishment theory to reflect on retributivism’s past and present, with an eye toward what retributivism and punishment theory generally might become. Many of the speakers are also contributors to the recently published volume, Retributivism: Essays on Theory and Policy (Mark D. White, ed., OUP 2011), which will also be considered at the conference.

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