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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Progressives Against the Constitution

This piece originally appeared in The Washington Post and at Wednesday, 16 April 2014, under the byline of George Will.

George WillIn a 2006 interview, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said the Constitution is "basically about" one word — "democracy" — that appears in neither that document nor the Declaration of Independence. Democracy is America's way of allocating political power. The Constitution, however, was adopted to confine that power in order to "secure the blessings of" that which simultaneously justifies and limits democratic government — natural liberty.

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Budget Battles and the Growth of the Administrative State

by John Marini, Ph.D.
Visiting Distinguished Fellow
The Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship
Hillsdale College

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on September 26, 2013, at Hillsdale College's Kirby Center in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series

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

As seen in the recent government shutdown and the showdown over the debt limit — the latest in a long series of such crises in Washington — the federal budget stands at the heart of American politics. Thankfully shut downWith few exceptions, the budget has formed the battleground between the political branches of the government — the executive and the legislative — in every administration since LBJ's Great Society. That starting point is not a coincidence: What ceiling?The Great Society marked the beginning of an expansion of the federal government and a centralization of political and administrative power in Washington that had long been the domain of local and state governments. In addition to destroying the fabric of federalism, this centralization had the effect of undermining the separation of powers, making it difficult if not impossible for Congress, the president, and the bureaucracy to function amicably in pursuit of a national interest.

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States Defending the Constitution

KrisAnne Hallby KrisAnne Hall

Editor's Note: Author KrisAnne Hall resides in the Florida panhandle. She has a daily radio show on WVFT-93.3FM. She travels around the country teaching about the Constitution and the U.S. founding. This article originally appeared on her blog about 15 January.

Nullification or Article V conventions?

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Ignorance May Not Be So Blissful

This piece originally appeared in The Washington Post and at Wednesday, 1 January 2014, under the byline of George Will.


George Will

It was naughty of Winston Churchill to say, if he really did, that “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Nevertheless, many voters’ paucity of information about politics and government, although arguably rational, raises awkward questions about concepts central to democratic theory, including consent, representation, public opinion, electoral mandates and officials’ accountability.

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