Commentary by James Wilson Institute

  • “The Conservative Legal Movement Sputters” — Josh Hammer in the Spectator World

    by James Wilson Institute on April 20, 2022
    Taking an honest look at today’s conservative jurisprudence, Josh Hammer calls for a return to the Bible, natural law, and the substantive precepts underpinning our constitutional order. Some excerpts: “A sober, empirical assessment of the past four decades paints an ambiguous picture of substantive conservative success in US courthouses. It is simply not obvious how […]
  • “‘It’s Good (Not) to be the King’: Qualified Praise for Michael McConnell” — Garrett Snedeker

    by James Wilson Institute on March 18, 2022
    Anchoring Truths co-founder Garrett Snedeker offers qualified praise for Prof. Michael McConnell’s recent book on executive power under the Constitution. While McConnell argues convincingly for public meaning originalism, he implicitly reaffirms judicial supremacy over interpretive disputes between the legislative and the executive branches. “McConnell’s most significant contribution to the scholarly literature is his thorough evaluation of Article II with a […]
  • Remembering Holden Tanner (’20)

    by James Wilson Institute on March 17, 2022
    JWI mourns the tragic death of Holden Tanner, 2020 James Wilson Fellow. In this time of grief, we offer our deepest condolences to all who knew him and pray for the repose of Holden’s soul. Please also pray for strength for his wife and children. Holden was a gentleman and scholar in full, one of […]
  • “Once More Unto the Breach” — Hadley Arkes

    by James Wilson Institute on March 7, 2022
    In a response to Ed Whelan’s critique of “On Overturning Roe,” Prof. Arkes insists that the moral argument against Roe is the only logical one for judges who believe in the deep wrong of abortion. The pro-life cause rests on objective moral truths, not on value judgments, and as a result does not require judges […]
  • Podcast at First Things: Hadley Arkes and R. R. Reno discuss “On Overruling Roe”

    by James Wilson Institute on March 3, 2022
    Professor Hadley Arkes and First Things editor R. R. Reno talk about Arkes’s recent article, “On Overruling Roe,” focusing on originalist jurisprudence, the relevance of natural law to abortion, and the Dobbs case. firstthings · Hadley Arkes on Roe v. Wade “On Overruling Roe” may be read here. Listen to the podcast here.
  • “Justice Byron White and Abortion” — Hadley Arkes in The Catholic Thing

    by James Wilson Institute on February 24, 2022
    Responding to Richard Doerflinger’s critique of “Waiting for Dobbs,” Prof. Arkes asserts that conservative justices could successfully outlaw most abortions by returning to Justice White’s standard: only abort to save the mother’s life. At the same time, however, White did the pro-life cause a lasting disservice by focusing not on the rights of unborn babies […]
  • “Originalism Is Not Enough” — Hadley Arkes in Claremont Review of Books

    by James Wilson Institute on February 17, 2022
    In a review of Drakeman’s The Hollow Core of Constitutional Theory: Why We Need the Framers, Prof. Hadley Arkes contends that, when debating moral issues such as abortion and freedom of religion, judges should look beyond the text of the Constitution to the principles underpinning it. The Framers themselves disagreed on constitutional interpretation, and it’s […]
  • “On Overturning Roe” — Hadley Arkes in First Things

    by James Wilson Institute on February 15, 2022
    Comparing abortion to slavery, Hadley Arkes explains how conservative jurisprudence has obscured the central issue of abortion–the killing of small lives–by referring the decision to the States. Though popular, such traditional conservative reasoning fails to address what the States should do if Roe is overturned. Conservatives should go further. The Fourteenth Amendment expressly gives Congress […]
  • “The Smith Case, Religious Freedom, and Originalism” — Christopher Wolfe in Public Discourse

    by James Wilson Institute on February 10, 2022
    Responding to the Fulton decision, Christopher Wolfe argues that conservative judges who wish to uphold originalism should not overturn Smith. Some excerpts: “The Smith opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the greatest twentieth-century Supreme Court originalist—maybe the ‘re-founder’ of originalism on the Court. It is surprising, and perhaps ominous, that the newly ‘conservative’ Court in 2021 […]
  • “Waiting for Dobbs” — Hadley Arkes in The Catholic Thing

    by James Wilson Institute on February 9, 2022
    Professor Arkes anticipates what might happen if the Supreme Court seeks to take “the low door under the whole” in the Dobbs case—sustaining the law in Mississippi while affecting not to overrule Roe v. Wade. Some excerpts: “The odds are that the statute in Mississippi will be sustained by a Court now containing Amy Coney […]