Reviving a Constitutional Congress

by Christopher DeMuth
Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on September 15, 2015, at Hillsdale College’s Sixth Annual Constitution Day Celebration in Washington, D.C..

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

US ConstitutionOur Constitution is often treated as a reliquary, worthy of reverence but no longer of much practical use. Yet the Constitution reflects, in many deep and subtle ways, the character of the people who established it and have lived and prospered under it for centuries. This is particularly true of its structural features of federalism and separated powers, which vindicate Americans’ democratic nature, our distrust of power, and our taste for open competition.

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On the Passing of Justice Antonin Scalia

This piece originally appeared 15 February 2016 as installment #100 in the e-mail newsletter series Kristol Clear  under the title "Antonin Scalia (1936-2016)", and the byline William Kristol

Late Great Justice Antonin Scalia

William KristolNino Scalia would have appreciated, even been amused by, Sunday's Washington Post banner headline announcing his death: "Supreme Court conservative dismayed liberals." Scalia didn't mind dismaying liberals due to his attachment to the Constitution and the rule of law. And he had the self-confidence and sense of humor to take such a farcically inappropriate headline in stride. But think about it: One of the giants of the Supreme Court (and not just of the modern Supreme Court but of the history of the Supreme Court), a central figure in the revitalization of a whole approach or set of approaches to the Constitution and constitutional law, the author of some of the most important opinions and some of the greatest dissents ever to issue from that bench, a towering figure in our public life, dies — and the headline of the paper of record in our nation's capital focuses on the fact that he "dismayed liberals." What an example of the decay of modern liberalism into un-self-conscious solipsism!

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Just Say It, It's Really Not That Hard

This piece originally appeared at Monday, 16 November 2015 under the title "Why Can't the Dems Say 'Radical Islam'?" and the byline Ben Domenech

Ben DomenechHow Saturday [14 November 2015] night’s debate displayed a party both at odds with reality and the popular will when it comes to terrorism.

[The 14 November] Democratic presidential debate offered the country a moment of clarity that exposes just how brittle and discredited the worldview of America’s elites has become — and it showed that critiques of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s approach to policy are an exposed nerve which will absolutely present a challenge to her in future debates next fall.

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The New Voting Rights Push: A Progressive Wet Dream

This piece originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal and at Friday, 12 June 2015 under the title "Hillary's Unlawful Plan to Overrule Voter-ID Laws" and the byline David B. Rivkin and Elizabeth Price Foley

Automatic registration at 18, letting felons vote — it's all part of an unconstitutional progressive dream.

David B. RivkinElizabeth Price Foley

Declaring that Republican-controlled states have "systematically and deliberately" tried to "disempower and disenfranchise" voters, Hillary Clinton has called for a sweeping expansion of federal involvement in elections. In a speech last week in Houston, laying out what promises to be a major campaign theme, Mrs. Clinton called for automatic voter registration at age 18, a 20-day early-voting period and a maximum 30-minute wait period to vote.

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Super PACs and Free Speech

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Post and at Friday, 5 June 2015 under the headline "The Super PAC Minuet" and the byline George Will. For another facet of this issue, read the author's follow-up "The 'Progressive' Itch to Regulate Speech" at (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Saturday, 13 February 2016).

George WillCampaign finance “reformers” think the United States would be better governed if the government could thoroughly regulate campaign speech, which is speech about the composition and comportment of the government. Reformers scold the Supreme Court for construing the First Amendment as though it says “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” Reformers say government can limit campaign money without limiting what most of such money funds — political speech.

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Slaying an Imaginary Foe

This piece originally appeared at Friday, 5 June 2015 under the headline "Hillary Needs a Faux War on Voting Rights" and the byline of Jonathan S. Tobin.

Jonathan TobinHillary Clinton was in Texas on Thursday doing what she usually does: not taking questions from the press while seeking ways to energize the Democratic base. In this case, her focus on highlighting a key issue for Democrats: voting rights. But contrary to the overheated rhetoric she and other members of her party are employing, this has little to do with fighting actual efforts to stop minorities from voting and everything to do with creating a sense of crisis, particularly among African-Americans, that Republicans are seeking to put them "back in chains".

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The Battle of Indiana and the Promise of Battles to Come

by David French
National Review

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 20, 2015, at Hillsdale College's Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C..

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

Head onThe dust is clearing from the Twitter and Facebook battlefields, the people of Indiana are out from under the white-hot glare of the national media, and both sides are taking stock. Who won the Battle of Indiana? Who lost? What’s next for religious liberty in America?

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ISIS vs. the Cross

This piece originally appeared at RealClear Religion Friday, 27 February 2015, under the headline "How the Cross Taunts ISIS" and the byline of Robert Barron.

Webmaster's Note: Although the thrust of this piece is religious/theological, the insights offered by Father Barron illuminate why the approach taken by the current administration is so wrongheaded. 

Father Robert BarronLast week, the attention of the world was riveted to a deserted beach in northern Libya, where a group of twenty one Coptic Christians [was] brutally beheaded by masked operatives of the ISIS movement.

In the wake of the executions, ISIS released a gruesome video entitled "A Message in Blood to the Nation of the Cross." I suppose that for the ISIS murderers the reference to "the Nation of the Cross" had little sense beyond a generic designation for Christianity. Sadly for most Christians, too, the cross has become little more than an anodyne, a harmless symbol, a pious decoration.

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(Mis?)-Handling the Question

This piece originally appeared at National Review Online Friday, 13 February 2015, under the headline "Media's Interrogation of Scott Walker on Evolution is in Bad Faith" and the byline of Jonah Goldberg.

Jonah GoldbergIt's not about science. It's about the culture war.

At an event in London on trade policy, Scott Walker was asked about evolution. "It’s almost a tradition now," the moderator said, to ask "senior Republicans" if they are "comfortable with the idea of evolution."

"I’m going to punt on that one as well," the Wisconsin governor replied. "That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or another."

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The Case Against Liberal Compassion

by William Voegeli
Senior Editor, Claremont Review of Books

The following is adapted from a speech delivered at Hillsdale College on October 9, 2014, sponsored by the College’s Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship.

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

Never Enough book coverFour years ago I wrote a book about modern American liberalism: Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State. It addressed the fact that America’s welfare state has been growing steadily for almost a century, and is now much bigger than it was at the start of the New Deal in 1932, or at the beginning of the Great Society in 1964. In 2013 the federal government spent $2.279 trillion — $7,200 per American, two-thirds of all federal outlays, and 14 percent of the Gross Domestic Product — on the five big program areas that make up our welfare state: 1. Social Security; 2. All other income support programs, such as disability insurance or unemployment compensation; 3. Medicare; 4. All other health programs, such as Medicaid; and 5. All programs for education, job training, and social services.

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