My review of Richard Brookhiser’s Biography of John Marshall

I have a review of Richard Brookhiser’s recent John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court, at the Liberty Fund site. A bit:

“[T]here is an ambiguity in the book’s subtitle. “The man who made the Supreme Court” might signal Marshall’s outsized role in fashioning the Supreme Court in his own self-image. There are some biographies, as Kevin Walsh has noted in his review in these pages of another recent Marshall book, that read Marshall as a kind of Romantic hero—the American Werther or Cagliostro of the judiciary. But there is another, and perhaps better, interpretation of the subtitle: that distinctive features of Marshall’s character as a man subtly but powerfully influenced the Court’s development under his stewardship.”

Justice Alito Keynotes Tradition Project Session in Rome

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Here’s a report on last month’s meeting of the Tradition Project in Rome, on “The Value of Tradition in the Global Context.” Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito of the Supreme Court of the United States delivered the keynote address:

As a highlight of this year’s Tradition Project session, Justice Alito spoke about the relationship between international and national law in the context of human rights. “The conflict between global human rights norms and local legal traditions has become acute over the past decade,” says Professor Mark L. Movsesian, who directs the Center for Law and Religion and co-directs the Project with Professor Marc O. DeGirolami. “Justice Alito’s keynote addressed a timely topic in a substantive way. We were so honored to have him with us.”

After Justice Alito’s remarks, the Project convened a panel of respondents that included Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the Vatican City Tribunal; Ugo De Siervo, president emeritus of the Italian Constitutional Court; Chantal Delsol of the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques; and Andrés Ollero of the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal.

The session also included four invitation-only workshops on “Understandings of Tradition in the Global Context”; “Local Traditions and Global Government”; “Liberalism, Populism, and Nationalism”; and “Tradition and Human Rights.” Participants prepared short reflection papers on the various topics. “There was a lot to discuss in the workshops, and there will be a lot to keep elaborating and deepening in the near future,” says LUMSA Professor Monica Lugato, one of the Tradition Project session organizers. “It was a challenging and rewarding academic meeting.”

Thanks to our partners at LUMSA and at Villanova for co-sponsoring the Rome meeting. Watch this space for news about future Tradition Project events!

AALS Law and Religion Panel on “Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech”

This year’s annual AALS section on law and religion in New Orleans is hosting a panel discussion on Saturday, January 5, from 10:30-12:15, called “Free Exercise of Religion and Free Speech.” Bill Marshall (UNC), Perry Dane (Rutgers), Erica Goldberg (Dayton), Kellen Funk (Columbia), and I will be speaking, and Michael Moreland (Villanova) is chairing the panel. Much of my talk is drawn from this paper.

Here is the panel description (it’s probably fair to say that my own talk will focus on the last two items):

Free exercise of religion and freedom of speech are both protected by the First Amendment, but how are they related? Prominent recent cases such as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and NIFLA v. Becerra raised claims about religiously motivated speech, and this program will explore the historical, theoretical, and doctrinal relation between freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. Among the topics addressed will be the significant doctrinal differences between constitutional claims for free speech and free exercise, the argument that free speech and free exercise are in some sense reducible to each other, the historical development of freedom of speech and religious free exercise in political theory and American constitutional law, and the current view that some values (such as anti-discrimination norms or protection against hate speech) should outweigh rights of free speech or freedom of religion.

Center Papers & Activities in 2018

Here is a retrospective list of some of our papers and activities in 2018Pen and Ink, with links where available. A warm word of gratitude to our readers, and best wishes for the new year!

Papers

DeGirolami, On the Uses of Anti-Christian Identity Politics, in “Religious Freedom, LGBT Rights, and the Prospects for Common Ground” (Robin Fretwell Wilson & William Eskridge, eds., 2018).

Movsesian, Markets and Morals: The Limits of Doux Commerce, 9 Wm. & Mary Bus. L. Rev.  449 (2018).

DeGirolami, The Sickness Unto Death of the First Amendment (forthcoming Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy).

Movsesian, Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Future of Religious Freedom, 42 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y (forthcoming)

DeGirolami (with Kevin Walsh), Conservatives, Don’t Put Too Much Hope in the Next Justice (New York Times, July).

DeGirolami (with Kevin Walsh), 2018 Supreme Court Roundup: Kennedy’s Last Term (First Things, October).

DeGirolami, The Long Tail of Legal Liberalism (reviewing Patrick Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed (2018)) (Liberty Fund Library of Law and Liberty, February)

Activities

The Tradition Project, Part III: “Tradition and the Global Clash of Values,” Rome, Italy, December.

Legal Spirits (podcast series concerning law and religion).

In spring 2018, Movsesian was a fellow in the James Madison Program in Princeton University’s Department of Politics.

Throughout the year, Movsesian blogged regularly at First Things and Law & Liberty.

Movsesian, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture Annual Conference, Panelist, “A House Divided–Polarization in Our Common Life,” November.

Movsesian, Princeton University, Panelist, “Religious Freedom at Home and Abroad,” Madison Program Annual Conference, May.

Movsesian, Princeton University, Commentator, Conference on Law, Religion, and Complicity, University Center for Human Values, April.

Movsesian, Princeton University, Madison Program Workshop Series, The Future of Religious Freedom.

Movsesian, Colloquium on Religion and Liberalism, First Things Magazine (invited participant).

Movsesian, Columbia Law School, Guest Faculty, “Reading Group in the American Constitutional Tradition.

Movsesian, George Mason University Law School, Center for the Study of the Administrative State, The Future of Religious Freedom, March.

DeGirolami, “Higher Purposes of Free Speech,” Conference, “Higher Powers,” Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, November.

DeGirolami, Constitution Day Discussion, The King’s College, New York (with David Tubbs), September.

DeGirolami, “First Amendment Developments in the Supreme Court’s Recent Cases,” Loyola University Maryland, September.

DeGirolami, “The Sickness Unto Death of the First Amendment,” Center for the Study of the Administrative State, George Mason University School of Law, March.

Legal Spirits Episode 003: Tradition in the Global Context

Tradition Project

In this episode, Center Director Mark Movsesian and Associate Director Marc DeGirolami discuss the upcoming meeting of the Center’s Tradition Project, set for Rome on December 12-13. This session, “The Value of Tradition in the Global Context,” features a keynote address by Justice Samuel Alito, a response panel of European jurists, and a series of workshops with scholars from both sides of the Atlantic. Mark and Marc discuss the relationship among tradition, liberalism, nationalism, and populism in today’s world and address recent works by Yascha Mounk, Mark Lilla, Patrick Deneen, and Yoram Hazony, as well as, on its 25 anniversary, Samuel Huntington’s famous essay on the clash of civilizations.

Next Week in Rome: Tradition Project III

Tradition ProjectWe’re delighted to announce we’ll hold the third session of the Tradition Project, “The Value of Tradition in the Global Context,” next week in Rome. This session will feature a public address, on December 12, by Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of the Supreme Court of the United States., and four private workshops on the conference themes. The event is hosted by our partners at LUMSA Università and is co-sponsored by Villanova’s Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy. Details are available here, Programma12-13dicembre2018. Forum readers in Rome, stop by and say hello on December 12!

New Article: Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Future of Religious Freedom

I’ve posted a new article on SSRN, “Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Future of Religious Freedom.” The article, which will appear in the current volume of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, uses last term’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop as a vehicle for exploring deep trends in American culture, politics, and religion. Here’s the abstract:

Last term, the Supreme Court decided Masterpiece Cakeshop, one of several recent cases in which religious believers have sought to avoid the application of public accommodations laws that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Court’s decision was a narrow one that turned on unique facts and did relatively little to resolve the conflict between anti-discrimination laws and religious freedom. Yet Masterpiece Cakeshop is significant, because it reflects broad cultural and political trends that drive that conflict and shape its resolution: a deepening religious polarization between the Nones and the Traditionally Religious; an expanding conception of equality that treats social distinctions—especially religious distinctions—as illegitimate; and a growing administrative state that enforces that conception of equality in all aspects of our common life. This article explores those trends and offers three predictions for the future: conflicts like Masterpiece Cakeshop will grow more frequent and harder to resolve; the law of religious freedom will remain unsettled and deeply contested; and the judicial confirmation wars will grow even more bitter and partisan than they already have.

You can download the paper here.

Movsesian on Religious Polarization

To follow on Marc’s post yesterday, here is the video of my panel presentation earlier this month’s at the annual Notre Dame Ethics and Culture Center Conference. The title of the panel, chaired by Notre Dame Law Professor (and Tradition Project member) Marah Stith McLeod, was “A House Divided–Polarization in Our Common Life,” and the subject of my talk, beginning at the 35:45 mark, was “Church and State in a Time of Polarization.” Thanks to Marah and my co-panelist, John Carr (Georgetown), and to the Notre Dame Center Director, Carter Sneed, for inviting me!

Notre Dame CEC Conference Panel on “Shield or Spear: The Power of Speech”

Here is the video of my panel with Michael Moreland and Rick Garnett at a recent conference at Notre Dame, discussing the current condition of free speech. For those disinclined to read the paper below, you can get a rough sense of some of the points in it in the video. I appreciated the chance to chat with Mike and Rick to get a sense of where we agree (on many issues) and perhaps see things a little differently (a smaller, but interesting and important, set of issues) as to the First Amendment.

New paper: “The Sickness Unto Death of the First Amendment”

I’ve posted a new draft, forthcoming in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy: The Sickness Unto Death of the First Amendment. Here is the abstract.

The sickness unto death, in Søren Kierkegaard’s work of the same name, is the anxiety and despair an individual experiences in recognizing that the self is separated from what is collective, extrinsic, or transcendent. Something like this condition now afflicts the First Amendment. The sickness unto death of the First Amendment is that the spectacular success of free speech and religious freedom as American constitutional rights on premises of liberal, individual autonomy has been the very cause of mounting and powerful collective anxiety. The impressive growth of these rights has rendered them fragile, if not actually unsustainable, in their current form. Their unprecedented expansion has brought on an awareness of their emptiness in serving the larger, common political good. The yearning for political community and shared purpose transcending individual interest has in turn generated vigorous calls for First Amendment constriction to promote what are claimed to be higher ends — in some cases ends that were promoted by the hypertrophy of the First Amendment itself.

What binds these claims is the view that expansive First Amendment rights harm others or are more generally socially or politically harmful. In some cases, the same people who argued for the disconnection of free speech rights from common civic ends are now advocating free speech constriction to reconnect free speech to new ends said to be constitutive of the American polity. The same is true for religious freedom. But in a society that is deeply fractured about where the common good lies, imposing new limits on First Amendment rights in the name of dignity, democracy, equality, sexual freedom, third party harm, or any of the other purposes championed by the new constrictors is at least as likely to exacerbate social and civic fragmentation as to reconstitute it.

This paper describes the development of the First Amendment — and in particular of its ends and limits — through three historical periods. Part I concerns early American understandings, which conceived rights of free speech and religious freedom within an overarching framework of natural rights delimited by legislative judgments about the common political good. Part II traces the replacement of that framework with a very different one in the twentieth century, describing the judicial turn toward self-regarding justifications of speech that prioritize individual autonomy, self-actualization, and absolute anti-orthodoxy. The paper describes the crisis or despair of free speech and the coming of the First Amendment constrictors in Part III. It concludes briefly in Part IV by recapitulating the parallel paths of the rights of free speech and religious freedom. It is, in fact, remarkable that over the centuries, some of the most prominent justifications for and objections to the scope of these rights have proceeded pari passu and assumed nearly identical shape.

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