Legal Spirits Episode 041: Learning in War-Time

In this episode of Legal Spirits, Center Co-Directors Mark Movsesian and Marc DeGirolami explore C.S. Lewis’s great essay on the calling of the Christian scholar, “Learning in War-Time.” Lewis wrote the essay at the start of World War II, but it continues to speak to students and faculty today–Christian and non-Christian. As Lewis observes, “human life is always lived on the edge of a precipice,” and the question why people should devote what little time they have on earth to academic pursuits when so many other things call for our attention is a perennial one. Lewis’s message is one of humility, courage, and controlled hope, even in the worst of times. Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 040: Raising the Christian Flag at City Hall

Boston City Hall (Brutalist architecture)

In this episode, Center Co-Directors Marc DeGirolami and Mark Movsesian explore another law and religion case recently argued at the Supreme Court, Shurtleff v. City of Boston, concerning whether a municipality can decline a private group’s request to fly a religious flag on a city hall flagpole pursuant to a policy where it flies flags at the request of other private constituencies. The case involves issues of free speech and religious freedom, as well as raising some questions about broader themes or patterns in the religion cases the Supreme Court seems to be taking–particularly as respects the Establishment Clause. Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 039: Praying on the 50-Yard Line (Again)

In this episode, Center Co-Directors Marc DeGirolami and Mark Movsesian explore the Court’s decision last week to cert grant in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, in which a high school football coach challenges his employer’s decision to discipline him for praying on the field after games. The case, which we discussed in an episode three years ago when the Court denied cert at an earlier stage in the litigation, raises interesting free speech and free exercise issues. Why did the Court take the case now, and what are the arguments on either side? Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 038: Law & Religion in “The Merchant of Venice”

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, one of his “problem plays,” has long fascinated lawyers. Yet the legal arguments in the case are preposterous. In this episode, we discuss how Shakespeare uses an absurd legal dispute to illustrate deeper religious and political conflicts and speculate about the implications of the play for America today. Perhaps the reason Merchant so fascinates lawyers is that it demonstrates uncomfortable truths about the limits of law. Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 037: The NY COVID Vaccine Mandates and Religious Exemptions

In this episode, we tackle a recent set of challenges by religious objectors in New York to government imposed vaccine mandates. We run through some of the background in these cases, examine some of the comments by New York Governor Kathleen Hochul concerning religion and these mandates, and take a look at the relevant law of free exercise and due process. Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 036: Looking Back and Ahead at Law and Religion Cases at the Supreme Court

In this episode, we look at the biggest law and religion case at the Supreme Court last term, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, and the two most significant such cases on the Court’s docket for the new term so far. The first, Carson v. Makin, looks like it could be a major case on the issue of whether the state may distinguish between “status” and “use” in deciding whether to exclude a religious school from its tuition aid programs. The second, Ramirez v. Collier, concerns a RLUIPA challenge to a Texas restriction on what ministers and clergy may do in capital cases in ministering inside the execution chamber. Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 035: With Gerald Russello of the University Bookman

In this episode, we talk with Gerald Russello of the University Bookman about his decades-long career editing the influential conservative review of books. Gerald talks about his plans for the Bookman, the varieties of American conservatism, his own intellectual journey and embrace of traditionalism, and the future of the American right. It’s a fascinating discussion. Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 034: An Interview with Sohrab Ahmari

In this episode, author Sohrab Ahmari joins us to talk about his just-released book, “The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos.” We discuss Sohrab’s inspiration for the book, the benefits of received wisdom, and the paradox of following a tradition in 21st-century America. Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 033: Augustine and Our Common Loves

In this episode, we discuss Augustine’s City of God and its meaning for American politics today. What does Augustine’s famous metaphor of the two cities–the City of God and the City of Man–suggest about Christians’ place in 21st Century America? And what about his definition of a people as a group united by common loves? Is it correct, as President Biden argued in his inaugural address, that Americans fit this definition of a people? What common loves unite Americans today? Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 032: The New Technocracy

In this episode, we interview Italian political scientist Lorenzo Castellani about his new book, “The Gear of Power” (L’Ingranaggio del Potere), which explores the rise of the “technocacy”–a new aristocracy, based on technical expertise, that increasingly dominates politics in the West. We discuss how claims of neutral expertise can mask underlying (and contested) moral commitments, and how the rise of the technocracy has provoked a populist backlash in Europe and America, including with respect to public-health restrictions on worship during the Covid pandemic. Listen in!