The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

PODCAST: Jesse Merriam and Josh Hammer on “An Even Better Originalism?”

Patrick Henry College Associate Professor Jesse Merriam and JWI affiliated scholar Josh Hammer joined JWI Deputy Director Garrett Snedeker to discuss Professor Merriam’s article, “A Better Legal Conservatism,” published in The American Mind. Prof. Merriam’s article was in response to “A Better Originalism,” co-authored by Prof. Hadley Arkes, Garrett Snedeker, Josh Hammer, and Matthew Peterson. In the podcast, we discuss the failures of Republican administrations to nominate conservative jurists to the Supreme Court; Prof. Merriam’s critique of a federalist approach to solving this problem; the need for support structures and institution building in the conservative legal movement; and the need for conservatives to focus on the key civilizational issues that plague America.

Some excerpts from the podcast:

(18:55-19:06): The Court has moved, and the judiciary in general has moved, vastly to the left despite Republican control and the rise of the Federalist Society and originalism.

(33:25-33:44) about the poor philosophical education of lawyers and judges : The issue that I get pushback from some folks including some sitting judges I talk to, they simply say to me, “Why do you think I know anything about Aristotle, or Maimonides, Aquinas, whoever?”

(50:00-50:39): I don’t think that this should be entirely living constitutionalism on the Right, as it’s often mischaracterized, that’s not what I’m urging for at all What I’m urging for is a principled constitutional jurisprudence that has actual support structures that are developing it in a substantive way, as opposed to just a bunch of law professors debating whether or not the 14th amendment was correct on incorporation. I just think that is a misuse of resources, and even worse, it’s partly responsible for the failures over the 50 years that I mentioned earlier.

The full podcast can be listened to here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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