Distinctly Catholic

Berkowitz: \"Reading Into the Constitution\"


Over at Policy Review, Peter Berkowitz has a review of a new book by Jack Balkin in which Balin tries to create a synthesis between the originalism we associate with Justice Scalia and the "living document" approach to constitutional interpretation we associate with, say, Justice Breyer.

You do not have to agree with Berkowitz - or with Balkin - to enjoy the essay. It shows, in clear and lucid style, how complicated these issues are and, yet, how fortunate we are to live in a country and a time when such issues are resolved by argument and not by guns. Speaking of guns, I cannot refrain from recalling best refutation of Scalia's originalism I have ever heard. A friend remarked that he agreed the Second Amendment should be understood in its originalist sense and, consequently, he believed individual citizens had an absolute, incontrovertible right to bear muskets.

Defending the Right to Vote


U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle yesterday struck down key provisions of Florida’s new voting law, specifically targeting those provisions which put limits on the efforts of groups like the League of Women Voters to register people to vote.

The State of Florida has been systematically thumbing its nose at two of the most basic principles of democracy: the right to vote is inviolable and we should encourage citizens’ participation in elections. The first principle, the right to vote, was at the heart of the civil rights movement. Am I the only one who gets choked up when I heard Cong. John Lewis speak about this issue with such fervor, having fought for the right to vote and been hit over the head and chased by dogs for it, and now, fifty years later, finding that right under assault again?

Berg on Religious Liberty


Thomas Berg is one of the most balanced writers on legal issues, and his reply to an editorial regarding a North Dakota religious freedom statute is well worth reading. He debunks authoritatively the idea that religious liberty an issue only conservatives should care about. Alas, it is a sad day for liberalism when liberalism think defending the First Amendment is beneath them.

Muslims & Religious Liberty


I mentioned yesterday the very disturbing fact that the Catholic Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, signed an “anti-sharia” bill into law last week. I can scarcely make the case too strongly: The credibility of the USCCB on the issue of religious liberty is contingent on many things, but none more important than their willingness to loudly and repeatedly speak up on behalf of the religious liberty of our Muslim fellow citizens.

Sadly, the Kansas Catholic Conference has been AWOL, at least publicly, in the effort to beat back these outrageous laws. If you go to their website, there are lots of items pertaining to the HHS mandate. There is a rally planned at the state capitol. There is praise for religious liberty and conscience protection laws the state legislature passed which, strangely, only look at the issue through the lens of the HHS mandates which seems to put the lens behind the camera rather than the other way round. The USCCB has also neglected to mention the anti-sharia laws in its otherwise ample comments, suggestions and prayers for the Fortnight for Freedom.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017