Hayward, “Patriotism is Not Enough: Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, and the Arguments that Redefined American Conservatism”

Harry Jaffa and Walter Berns were vital twentieth century figures in American political Jaffa:Bernsand constitutional thought. Berns’s writing–particularly in the earlier part of his academic life–has been influential on my own views about the First Amendment. It’s therefore a pleasure to post this notice about Steven Hayward’s new book on both theorists. The publisher is Encounter Books, and the description is below.

This book is a lively intellectual history of a small circle of thinkers, especially, but not solely, Harry Jaffa and Walter Berns, who challenged the “mainstream” liberal consensus of political science and history about how the American Founding should be understood. Along the way they changed the course of the conservative movement and had a significant impact on shaping contemporary political debates from constitutional interpretation, civil rights, to the corruption of government today. Most importantly, these thinkers explain the deep reasons for patriotism—why we should love America not just because it is our country, but because it is a free and just country.

Supreme Court Roundup at First Things

Kevin Walsh and I have the annual Supreme Court Roundup at First Things, A Less Corrupt Term. In it we look back at some of the cases from last term and forward too. The range of cases looking back span the Obergefell-inflected genre, free speech (Packingham and Matal), law and religion (the church plan case and Trinity Lutheran), and Trump v. IRAP. We also discuss the political gerrymandering case on the upcoming docket (Gill v. Whitford) as well as Masterpiece Cakeshop. Here is a bit from the beginning:

In these unusually turbulent times for the presidency and Congress, the Supreme Court’s latest term stands out for its lack of drama. There were no 5–4 end-of-the-term cases that mesmerized the nation. There were no blockbuster decisions.

Even so, the Court was hardly immune to the steady transformation of our governing institutions into reality TV shows. Over the weekend leading into the final day of the term, speculation ignited from who-knows-where about the possible departure of its main character, Justice Anthony Kennedy. To us, the chatter seemed forced—as if the viewing public needed something to fill the vacuum left by a season of episodes with fewer sex scenes and less louche intrigue than usual.

But the scriptwriters did not disappoint entirely. In the season finale, the justices delivered split opinions in two cases that had not even been fully briefed and argued on the merits—one about President Trump’s limits on immigration from six majority-Muslim nations, the other about the right of a female same-sex spouse to be listed as a parent on a birth certificate alongside the birth mother. These opinions hint at some of the stories that will shape next year’s plotline—the first full term for the new character, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

And the producers promise a thrilling new season. For readers of this journal, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is likely to be the most prominent case, one about the freedom of a Christian baker to decline to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding celebration. Other potential showstoppers include a case about partisan gerrymandering and another round on President Trump’s executive order on immigration. We may also see more shake-ups in the cast. Before peering ahead to what may be coming, though, we look back at some of the signal events of the past term.

Hammond, “God’s Businessmen: Entrepreneurial Evangelicals in Depression and War”

The connection of conservative evangelicalism and the business community has taken God's Businessmensomething of a hit in the last decade or so, as business interests and religious interests have undergone a realignment, but this interesting looking book describes their older association well before the Reagan era. The author is Sarah Ruth Hammond, the publisher is Chicago Press, and the description is below.

The evangelical embrace of conservatism is a familiar feature of the contemporary political landscape. What’s less well-known, however, is that the connection predates the Reagan revolution, going all the way back to the Depression and World War II. Evangelical businessmen at the time were quite active in opposing the New Deal—on both theological and economic grounds—and in doing so claimed a place alongside other conservatives in the public sphere. Like previous generations of devout laymen, they self-consciously merged their religious and business lives, financing and organizing evangelical causes with the kind of visionary pragmatism that they practiced in the boardroom.

In God’s Businessmen, Sarah Ruth Hammond explores not only these men’s personal trajectories but also those of the service clubs and other institutions that, like them, believed that businessmen were God’s instrument for the Christianization of the world. Hammond presents a capacious portrait of the relationship between the evangelical business community and the New Deal—and in doing so makes important contributions to American religious history, business history, and the history of the American state.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

International Law and Religion: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Koskenniemi et al., eds.)

One of our Center’s areas of focus, and an area of expertise developed by my colleagueInternational Law Mark, is law and religion from a comparative and international perspective. Here’s a new collected volume co-edited by the renowned scholar of international law, Martin Koskenniemi, on the subject. The publisher is OUP and the description is below.

This books maps out the territory of international law and religion challenging received traditions in fundamental aspects. On the one hand, the connection of international law and religion has been little explored. On the other, most of current research on international legal thought presents international law as the very victory of secularization. By questioning that narrative of secularization this book approaches these traditions from a new perspective.

From the Middle Ages’ early conceptualizations of rights and law to contemporary political theory, the chapters bring to life debates concerning the interaction of the meaning of the legal and the sacred. The contributors approach their chapters from an array of different backgrounds and perspectives but with the common objective of investigating the mutually shaping relationship of religion and law. The collaborative endeavour that this volume offers makes available substantial knowledge on the question of international law and religion.

Christianity and Family Law: An Introduction (Witte & Hauk, eds.)

From the indefatigable John Witte of Emory University School of Law comes this new, co-edited volume concerning Christianity and family law, a subject of continuing Wittecomplexity and relevance in constitutional law and elsewhere. The volume is organized as a series of reflections about the writings of specific Christian thinkers on the family–from Moses all the way to Jean Bethke Elshtain. The publisher is CUP and the description is below.

The Western tradition has always cherished the family as an essential foundation of a just and orderly society, and thus accorded it special legal and religious protection. Christianity embraced this teaching from the start, and many of the basics of Western family law were shaped by the Christian theologies of nature, sacrament, and covenant. This volume introduces readers to the enduring and evolving Christian norms and teachings on betrothals and weddings; marriage and divorce; women’s and children’s rights; marital property and inheritance; and human sexuality and intimate relationships. The chapters are authoritatively written but accessible to college and graduate students and scholars, as well as clergy and laity. While alert to the hot button issues of sexual liberty today, the contributing authors let the historical figures speak for themselves about what Christianity has and can contribute to the protection and guidance of our most intimate association.

Duquesne Law School Symposium on Truth, Law, and Public Discourse

Here is a conference that may be of interest to some readers:

Duquesne University School of Law is hosting a Symposium prompted by the current state of American public life entitled, “Shall These Bones Live?: Resurrecting Truth in American Law and Public Discourse” on November 16-17, 2017. The Symposium co-convenors are Bruce Ledewitz, Duquesne Law School, and Heidi Li Feldman, Georgetown University Law Center. The Symposium keynote will be given by Louise Antony, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Other speakers are Justin Dyer, director of the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri, Lawrence M. Solan, Brooklyn Law School, Alina Ng, Mississippi College School of Law, and Brad Wendel, Cornell Law School. A short description follows.

From fake news to alternative facts, the American people have lost faith that institutions and leaders tell the truth and have even lost faith in what truth is.  Inconsistent narratives circulate among opposing groups that have little to do with each other, leading to mutual incomprehension, condescension and, sometimes, hatred.  This Symposium will consider the idea of truth, within law and without, and the depth of the current crisis of truth in American public life. The speakers will consider how realism can be reintroduced into law practice, law school teaching and political debate.

The Symposium is available for three CLE ethics credits for those attending and will be livestreamed. Papers will be published in the Duquesne Law Review. More information is available at www.duq.edu/law/resurrectingtruthcle.

Manne, “The Rise of the Islamic State”

9781633883710From Prometheus, here is a new study of ISIS’s motivating ideology by Australian scholar Robert Manne (La Trobe University): The Mind of the Islamic State: ISIS and the Ideology of the Caliphate. Manne, a political scientist at La Trobe University in Melbourne, traces the roots of ISIS to earlier Islamic groups like al-Qaeda. Here’s the description from the Penguin Random House, the distributor:

In the ongoing conflict with ISIS, military observers and regional experts have noted that it is just as important to understand its motivating ideology as to win battles on the ground. This book traces the evolution of this ideology from its origins in the prison writings of the revolutionary jihadist Sayyid Qutb, through the thinking of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who planned the 9/11 terrorist attack, to today’s incendiary screeds that motivate terrorism via the Internet.

Chief among these recent texts are two documents that provide the foundation for ISIS terrorism. One is called The Management of Savagery, essentially a handbook for creating mayhem through acts of violence. The other is the online magazine of horror called Dabiq, which combines theological justifications with ultraviolent means, apocalyptic dreams, and genocidal ambitions. Professor Manne provides close, original, and lucid readings of these important documents. He introduces readers to a strange, cruel, but internally coherent and consistent political ideology, which has now entered the minds of very large numbers of radicalized Muslims in the Middle East, North Africa, and the West.

However disturbing and unsettling, this book is essential reading for anyone concerned about terrorist violence.

 

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Crane, “The Meaning of Belief”

9780674088832-lgAmerican progressives increasingly argue that religion is simply a type of ideology, and that, as a result, it should receive no more respect in our law than other sorts of ideological commitments. But religion, as the West traditionally has understood it, is something more than ideology, especially in its corporate, identitarian aspects. The law traditionally has given special protection to religion exactly because it is not an ideology like any other. A new book from Harvard University Press, The Meaning of Belief: Religion from an Atheist’s Point of View, by Tim Crane (Central European University) attempts to explain the unique aspects of religion to atheists, who otherwise might fail to understand the force of the worldview they reject. Here’s the description from the Harvard website:

Contemporary debate about religion seems to be going nowhere. Atheists persist with their arguments, many plausible and some unanswerable, but these make no impact on religious believers. Defenders of religion find atheists equally unwilling to cede ground. The Meaning of Belief offers a way out of this stalemate.

An atheist himself, Tim Crane writes that there is a fundamental flaw with most atheists’ basic approach: religion is not what they think it is. Atheists tend to treat religion as a kind of primitive cosmology, as the sort of explanation of the universe that science offers. They conclude that religious believers are irrational, superstitious, and bigoted. But this view of religion is almost entirely inaccurate. Crane offers an alternative account based on two ideas. The first is the idea of a religious impulse: the sense people have of something transcending the world of ordinary experience, even if it cannot be explicitly articulated. The second is the idea of identification: the fact that religion involves belonging to a specific social group and participating in practices that reinforce the bonds of belonging. Once these ideas are properly understood, the inadequacy of atheists’ conventional conception of religion emerges.

The Meaning of Belief does not assess the truth or falsehood of religion. Rather, it looks at the meaning of religious belief and offers a way of understanding it that both makes sense of current debate and also suggests what more intellectually responsible and practically effective attitudes atheists might take to the phenomenon of religion.

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