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The Woke and the Dead

The Woke and the Dead

The Democratic Party might have made a small mistake when they undid a significant amount of their superdelegates’ power to decide presidential nominees. The Election of 2016 offered us the spectacle of Republican civil war, one that revealed a huge gap between GOP voters and the party’s leaders. It was …

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Parchment Barriers and the Determinateness of Constitutional Text

Parchment Barriers and the Determinateness of Constitutional Text

Recently, Jonathan Gienapp, a Stanford historian, has published what is likely to be a widely read book on constitutional interpretation. Second Creation: Fixing the Constitution’s Meaning in the Founding Era argues that there was no agreement on how to interpret the Constitution at the time of the Constitution’s enactment and …

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The Dismal Plight of Pension Burdened States

The Dismal Plight of Pension Burdened States

A substantial number of states have very large unpaid pension obligations, sometimes amounting to more than ten thousand dollars per capita. Most are “blue” states with entrenched Democratic control. My home state of Illinois is second on the list. These states face an enduring dilemma. Citizens and businesses are willing …

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California’s Unconstitutional Democracy

California’s Unconstitutional Democracy

At this year’s Transatlantic Law Forum, lawyers, academics, and other members of the scribal classes from both sides of the Atlantic gathered in Bayreuth, Germany to trade thoughts on the topic of democratic representation and its discontents. And its discontents are many, to judge from contemporary discourse. Representative institutions are …

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Peter Onuf’s Jefferson

Peter Onuf’s Jefferson

Historian Peter S. Onuf first saw the light as a Connecticut Yankee. Powerful of intellect even in his teens, he met the American Revolution as the subject of serious study in a Johns Hopkins graduate seminar (in which he was the sole undergraduate) taught by the greatest scholar of colonial …

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Jurisprudence as an Expression of Character

Jurisprudence as an Expression of Character

Books about John Marshall do different things. Some concern Marshall’s political and constitutional thought, as well as his complex commitments to classical liberalism and republican principles. Perhaps the chief work of this type is Robert K. Faulkner’s classic and still unsurpassed The Jurisprudence of John Marshall (1968). Then there are …

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Thomas Piketty and the False Promise of “Solidarity”

Thomas Piketty and the False Promise of “Solidarity”

According to many philosophers, starting with Kant, existence is not a predicate, but whether this is so or not, the first time I have ever seen it praised as something meritorious in itself was in a recent article in the Guardian newspaper, the bellwether of British center-left liberal (in the …

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Progressive Charges of Racism and the Politics of Language

Progressive Charges of Racism and the Politics of Language

Accusations of racism are rife in American political life these days. The Make America Great Again slogan is claimed to be racist. According to an op-ed in the New York Times, the wall that President Trump wants built at the border is a symbol of racism, if not an overtly …

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James Madison Won the Shutdown

James Madison Won the Shutdown

Don’t look now, but even as the punditry complains of peak dysfunction, the Constitutional machinery may actually be creaking back to life. The shutdown imbroglio was Woodrow Wilson’s nightmare, which ought to make it every constitutionalist’s dream. The issue is not which party won. Partisan disputes come and go. The …

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The Left’s Foolish Romance with Mass Protests

The Left’s Foolish Romance with Mass Protests

The Left has had a long romance with mass popular protest, even and sometimes especially protests that break the law. The latest enthusiast is David Leonhardt who lamented yesterday in the New York Times that the resistance has not taken to the streets to try to end the government shutdown. He …

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