The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

“Marriage and the Court: The Expected Arrives”—Prof. Hadley Arkes in The Catholic Thing

Writing in The Catholic Thing on the Obergefell ruling, Prof. Arkes, in “Marriage and the Court: The Expected Arrives,” discusses the recent ruling from the Court; he reminds us of the essence of marriage as we have heretofore known it—and why we must still have an interest in preserving that institution.

“The ‘right to abortion’ has been celebrated among its votaries as the remedy to that persisting problem in the human condition: the ‘unwanted’ pregnancy, which arrives out of season, at the wrong time, with the wrong partner. Question: when was the last time we heard of a gay or lesbian couple who were surprised that they had ‘conceived,’ without exactly intending it? That brute, obvious fact of nature should have been a telling guide in itself in explaining why a law of marriage has been cast around the relations of a man and a woman.”

“We have heard already, and we will rightly hear more, on the point that five lawyers took it upon themselves to recast an institution that has been bound up with the laws ever since their have been laws. In that way, they also removed the subject of marriage from the political arena, where ordinary citizens could settle on the laws they would have governing their lives. That is all true, but it reflects also the reigning vice of ‘conservative jurisprudence’: the conservatives are far more comfortable talking about ‘proces’ than about the substance of the thing.”

“At the heart of the matter was that stubborn fact of ‘sex’ in the strictest sense, the sex that has as its telos, or purpose, the begetting of children. It’s the purpose that explains why ‘Male and female He created them.’ What the lawyers seemed always too embarrassed to explain was that there was a natural correspondence between the bodily acts of coupling in men and women and the begetting of the children who would embody, in one flesh, the wedding of that man and woman.”

Read the whole piece here.

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Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790