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!

Legal Spirits Episode 031: The Biden Inauguration, Civil Religion & the Religious Left

In this podcast, Center Co-Directors Marc DeGirolami and Mark Movsesian reflect on the religious imagery in last month’s inauguration and how it fits within the American tradition of civil religion. They also ask whether the new administration reflects the rise of the Religious Left: a political coalition of progressive believers, including progressive Catholics like President Biden himself. How stable is that coalition? Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 030: Supreme Court Blocks NY’s Covid Restrictions on Churches

By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court recently granted a preliminary injunction against New York’s restrictions on church gatherings during the continuing Covid epidemic. In this episode, we discuss the case, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, and explore its implications for similar cases pending at the Court. We also ask why these cases have provoked such a reaction in the wider public (hint: it’s politics and the culture wars). Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 029: “What It Means to Be Human”–a Discussion with Professor Carter Snead

What is the anthropology–the account of human nature and human flourishing–that grounds the American law of bioethics? Is it an appealing one, or are there problems with it? In our latest podcast with Professor O. Carter Snead of the University of Notre Dame Law School, we probe these and related questions in his recently released book, What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Harvard University Press). Professor Snead discussed several chapters with us and our students in our Colloquium in Law and Religion. Listen in as we range over some of the deep questions covered by this important new book!

Legal Spirits Episode 028: Oral Argument in Fulton v. Philadelphia

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, involving a dispute between Catholic Social Services of Philadelphia, a foster-care placement agency, and the City of Philadelphia with respect to the former’s request for a religious accommodation from a local nondiscrimination provision in carrying out foster care placement. In this podcast, Mark and I discuss the major themes that emerged in the argument and offer a few predictions about the result and reasoning the Court might adopt. Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 027: Contemporary America and Late Imperial Rome

What are the primary sources of American notions of toleration: the Enlightenment or early Christianity? And why do so many see cultural parallels between America today and late imperial Rome? In our latest podcast, we chat with Professor Jed Atkins, a professor of classics at Duke University about these and other questions related to the nature and value of religious toleration, including its relationship to the virtue of justice. Professor Atkins’s presented a paper on Tertullian (as well as Augustine, St. Paul, and others) for our Colloquium in Law and Religion. Listen in as we broaden the lens to discuss these more general themes of cultural and legal significance today.

Legal Spirits 026: Law in “A Man for All Seasons”

In this episode, recorded especially for our 1Ls at St. John’s (and law students everywhere!), we explore legal themes in the classic film about Thomas More, “A Man for All Seasons” (1966). How far can law protect an individual from state and social coercion? And to what extent must a lawyer submerge his or her own views in representing a client? Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 025: Supreme Court Law and Religion Roundup

In this podcast, we discuss the end of the Supreme Court’s term, which included a number of important cases related to law and religion–Bostock, Espinoza, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Little Sisters of the Poor. We take a big picture, thematic approach to these cases, talk about who won and who lost, and speculate about what these and future cases mean for the ongoing conflicts between what we call “Progressives” and the “Traditionally Religious.” Listen in!

Legal Spirits Episode 024: Church Closings in the Time of Coronavirus–Part II

Photo: Buffalo News

In this followup to Episode 22, we discuss new developments in litigation over government orders to close churches during the COVID-19 epidemic, including a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. We ask whether local authorities continue to merit judicial deference and whether courts should decide what sort of worship services should satisfy believers. Listen in!