Are We All Common Good Constitutionalists Now?

May 16, 2022
John Ehrett '21 analyzes the role Vermeule’s book plays in calling for a return to better legal reasoning. Yet, even Vermeule's solution may not address the root of the problem.

A Jurisprudential Red Pill: Part II

May 12, 2022
Evelyn Blacklock continues her commentary on Vermeule's Common Good Constitutionalism, showing the strengths of the argument, while also demonstrating some needed nuances between the Classical and the Enlightenment perspectives of law.

"M. Stanton Evans: Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom" with Author Steve Hayward

May 6, 2022
Author Steve Hayward joins Deputy Director Garrett Snedeker and JWI Intern Emeline McClellan to discuss his recent book, "Stan Evans: Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom."

A Jurisprudential Red Pill: Part I

April 27, 2022
Evelyn Blacklock examines Prof. Adrian Vermeule's "Common Good Constitutionalism" and the alternative it offers to the status quo camps of jurisprudence.

"Building on the Right" with Matthew Peterson, President of New Founding

April 22, 2022
In this episode, Garrett Snedeker joins Matt Peterson, President of New Founding and founder of The American Mind, to discuss the reception of "A Better Originalism," statesmanship in American politics, and the need for new institutions.

The Conservative Legal Movement Sputters

April 20, 2022
Josh Hammer analyzes how liberal proceduralism is simply not enough for those in the conservative legal movement and points out a path forward for legal conservatives.

What the Hearings Missed

April 13, 2022
In the aftermath of Judge Jackson's nomination to the Supreme Court, Hadley Arkes analyzes the Senate hearings. Despite some well-timed questions, Republicans ultimately missed their chance to put Judge Jackson on the record defending the right to kill unwanted children even after birth.

"12 Angry Men & Natural Law" with Film Expert Onalee McGraw

March 18, 2022
Garrett Snedeker and film expert Onalee McGraw discuss the classic legal drama "12 Angry Men."

"It's Good (Not) to be the King": Qualified Praise for Michael McConnell

March 18, 2022
Anchoring Truths co-founder Garrett Snedeker offers two cheers for Prof. Michael McConnell's recent book on executive power under the Constitution.

Once More Unto the Breach: Arkes v. Whelan on the Overruling of Roe

March 8, 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 (as Whelan claims) “to read their own moral convictions into the Constitution.”

Podcast at First Things: Hadley Arkes and R. R. Reno discuss "On Overruling Roe"

March 3, 2022
Prof. Arkes discusses "On Overruling Roe" with First Things editor R.R. Reno.

Breaking the Sotomayor Mold

February 25, 2022
Kody Cooper argues that a new Supreme Court justice in the style of Sotomayor would fail to pass the "test of truth" when it comes to abortion, religious liberty, and takings. If the Senate Judiciary Committee cares about truth, it should therefore disavow the Sotomayor mold.

Justice Byron White and Abortion

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 but on the abuse of "raw judicial power."

Waiting for Dobbs

February 9, 2022
Hadley Arkes recalls that day, back in 1986, when Justice Byron White, one of the original dissenters in Roe v. Wade, startled Justice John Paul Stevens by suggesting that he too could accept Roe and a “right to abortion” in some form. Stevens seemed genuinely baffled. What White was offering was an understanding that would keep Roe v. Wade as a shell, while the substance was removed. Professor Arkes tries to reconstruct that argument here as an anticipation of 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.

Interfaith Discussion of Natural Law

February 8, 2022
Our guest panelists discuss how Natural Law intertwines with religion and why it matters, how much natural law depends on theology, and who would benefit the most from Natural Law.

Interfaith Discussion of Natural Law

February 8, 2022
Our guest panelists discuss how Natural Law intertwines with religion and why it matters, how much natural law depends on theology, and who would benefit the most from Natural Law.

Recovering a Conservative State Legal Theory

January 28, 2022
Jeffrey Bristol engages with Holden Tanner and Jesse Merriam about the role of historical originalism in state and federal structure. He argues that the federal constitution is unique from other nations in that it retains a long, public discourse and history that has matured with fundamental perception and that has been vital to both its conception and meaning.

When "Matter" Really Matters

January 17, 2022
A focus on the jurisprudence of the school prayer cases, rather than on the matter and form of the polity, avoids the central task for conservative legal scholars and advocates seeking to shape again the moral culture.

Founder's Keepers: Arkes on The Role of Govenment in Defining our Culture

January 10, 2022
In 2006, Prof. Hadley Arkes makes some timeless remarks at The Federalist Society on what the proper role of government is when it comes to culture.

Founder's Keepers: Arkes on Mary Eberstadt's Review of Judge Robert Conrad's "John Fisher & Thomas More"

January 6, 2022
Prof. Hadley Arkes on a review that Mary Eberstadt wrote of Judge Conrad's book "John Fisher & Thomas More"

States, Courts, and Common-Good Conservatism

January 3, 2022
We must marry Antifederalist sympathies, which recognize the dangers of concentrating power, to a holistic conservative jurisprudence, says Holden Tanner.

And All the Students Said, “Amen”

December 17, 2021
By offering a voluntary prayer, the government introduces its students to religion in a way that is not coercive or intrusive. It is, rather, a traditional acknowledgement of religion, even if it simply constitutes a recognition of the theistic origins of our unalienable rights.

‘Dobbs’ and the Conservative Legal Movement

December 9, 2021
If ‘Dobbs’ is decided following the ‘neutral principles’ of constitutional interpretation, it would not mean the end of abortion, according to Gerald Bradley, or even the beginning of the end of it. ‘Dobbs’ would instead be the start of a whole new phase of the political struggle over abortion. Yet the Constitution requires more.

A Common Call to Prayer

December 6, 2021
Continuing our symposium on school prayer, JWI Affiliated Scholar Gunnar Gundersen makes the case for a common call to prayer in American public life and in its public education.

Common Good and Common Belief in the Common Law

November 30, 2021
With discussions about the common good reaching the public square, Timon Cline writes about how the common good can be determined by both judges and legislature.

Corporations, Churches, Persons, and the Natural Law

November 23, 2021
Robert Miller responds to Prof. Adam MacLeod and argues that corporations are not real things of the world, but rather the outgrowth of human beings who for legal purposes should be considered the only entities that be judged to be in accord with law and morality.

Why State Courts Matter

November 18, 2021
Jesse Merriam responds to Holden Tanner and Josh Hammer on how a jurisprudence of Natural Law can be effectuated at the state court level

Our Divided House: A Review of Charles Kesler's Crisis of Two Constitution

November 17, 2021
Prof. Gerard Bradley reviews "Crisis of Two Constitutions" by Charles Kesler, analyzing whether we've hit our Weimar moment or not.

No free exercise for Aztecs—or abortionists

November 17, 2021
Jordan Ballor presents the proper limits for religious liberty. Strong belief isn't enough to justify actions that violate the natural law.

Churches: An Existence of Their Own

November 17, 2021
Prof. Adam MacLeod argues that Churches have an existence independent of government recognition or contract.

Churches: An Existence of Their Own or Creatures of the Sovereign?

November 17, 2021
JWI and First Liberty's CRCD Co-hosted a webinar with Profs. Adam MacLeod and Robert Miller. They discussed the relationship of churches and the government, and whether churches have an existence of their own or if they simply exist from a grant of the government.

Is it Time to Rethink the School Prayer Cases?

November 12, 2021
Prof. Francis Beckwith makes the argument for re-opening the question of school prayers in the courts, explaining how this would enable local governments to seek the common good.

Sentimental Judgments

November 5, 2021
Garrett Snedeker reviews "Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free" by Judge Rakoff, analyzing proposed reforms to the criminal justice system.

Judge Pryor’s Friendly Fire

November 4, 2021
Prof. Arkes defends "A Better Originalism" against Judge William Pryor's critique.

Podcast: Profs. David Forte and Adam White on Fetal Heartbeat Bills

October 29, 2021
Profs. David Forte and Adam White analyze Fetal Heartbeat Bills, their history, and their efficacy.

Podcast: Judge Robert Conrad on Fisher and More

October 22, 2021
Judge Robert Conrad discusses his new book about the faith and integrity that carried two men through a time of social chaos.

Churches: An Existence of Their Own or Creatures of the Sovereign?

October 19, 2021
JWI and First Liberty's CRCD Co-hosted a webinar with Profs. Adam MacLeod and Robert Miller. They discussed the relationship of churches and the government, and whether churches have an existence of their own or if they simply exist from a grant of the government. 

A Common Law Restoration Serves the Common Good

October 8, 2021
Josh Hammer responds to Holden Tanner's piece on Conservative judging. He explains how even the Constitution itself orients our jurisprudence towards principles of natural justice.

Whelan-Arkes Exchange: Last Round

October 6, 2021
JWI's Founder and Director Hadley Arkes goes another round with Ed Whelan and discusses the rightful place for moral reasoning in judicial jurisprudence

The Dobbs Case and the Strains of Prudence

October 5, 2021
Prof. Arkes analyzes the arguments at play in the upcoming Dobbs case, and explains that while there are potential outfielders and stockbrokers, there is no such thing as a "potential" human being.

A World After Liberalism: Reviewed by Prof. Daniel Mahoney

September 30, 2021
Prof. Mahoney reviews an account of anti-liberalism and demonstrates the need for faith and reason to guide our nation.

The Smith Case, Religious Freedom, and Originalism

September 27, 2021
Originally published in Public Discourse, Christopher Wolfe discusses the Fulton case and the judge role in interpreting the Free Exercise Clause.

Originalism: A Hollow Core?

September 20, 2021
JWI's Deputy Director Garrett Snedeker discusses Donald Drakeman's new book on Originalism and talks about its strengths and weaknesses.

1857: The Dred Scott Case

September 15, 2021

Abortion, the Political Branches, and Fetal Heartbeat

September 14, 2021
Hadley Arkes's argument lays out the power of other branches of government in defending life

Two Cheers For The Heartbeat Act

September 14, 2021
Contributing editor Josh Hammer discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the new Texas's heartbeat law.

Technology and Natural Law

September 2, 2021
James Poulos analyzes the differences between the Western and the rising Chinese approaches to technology and how Natural Law just might make up the difference.

PODCAST: An Inside Look at JWI

August 27, 2021
JWI Interns share on their experience working with the Institute

How to Recover Conservative Judging

August 24, 2021
James Wilson Institute Fellow Holden Tanner discusses the shortfalls of textualist originalist jurisprudence and how to recover common law jurisprudence.

The Wrong Way Forward

August 20, 2021
Contributing Editor Josh Hammer discusses possible paths for litigating the opioid crisis. Those responsible for the opioid crisis should be held responsible, but not via public-nuisance litigation.

The James Wilson Institute Teaches the Moral Foundations of the Law

August 18, 2021
Mike Sabo describes the essential work of the James Wilson Institute and the need to restore the natural law to our understanding of American civics and jurisprudence.

The Case for the Unconstitutionality of Abortion

August 10, 2021
Josh Hammer explores the debate amongst conservatives on whether the legality of abortion should be returned to the states, or if it should be outlawed nationwide. He astutely notes that if pro-lifers adopt the latter position, they will stretch the Overton window in their favor.

The Biden Administration Is Playing Dumb—and Into a Trap

August 9, 2021
JWI Deputy Director Garrett Snedeker argues that the Biden administration's decision to extend the eviction moratorium in defiance of the Supreme Court provides precedent for a future Republican administration to buck the Court to vindicate conservative priorities.

Reflections on the Arkes-Strang Debate

August 2, 2021
Philip Williamson responds to the Arkes-Strang Debate by explaining how the Declaration states the principles of a just government for the United States and how slavery is the exception that proves the rule.

Mississippi Asks SCOTUS to Overturn Roe

July 30, 2021
Contributing Editor Josh Hammer analyzes Mississippi's pro-life brief in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The American Regime and Its Moral Ground

July 29, 2021
Hadley Arkes traces the moral ground of the American Regime to the Declaration of Independence's conception of natural law, which frames rights in the context of an enduring human nature.

In Defense of Common Good Originalism

July 26, 2021
Contributing Editor Josh Hammer defends against criticism of his Common-Good Originalism essay, arguing that ambiguities in the text's meaning require us to give precedence to substantive ideals in interpretation.

Redeeming the Constitution

July 23, 2021
In his response to David Forte's "Originalism and Its Discontents," Bradley Rebeiro utilizes the case study of slavery "to reconsider how we understand this tension between originalism and natural law theory to see if there remains a better way to reconcile the two."

Contra Historicist Originalism

July 16, 2021
In his exclusive, inaugural piece, Hammer responds to Professor Stephanie Barclay's recent article about the non-partisan nature of originalism. Hammer claims that Professor Barclay misrepresents the contemporary right-of-center alternatives to originalism and that these emerging strands better represent our Founding philosophy.

Should the Declaration Inform the Constitution?: Hadley Arkes and Lee Strang Debate Transcript

July 12, 2021
JWI Founder and Director Hadley Arkes and Toledo Law School Professor Lee Strang debate whether or not originalism should utilize the natural law substance of the Declaration of Independence to answer constitutional law questions.

Conservatives after Fulton: Time for a New Path

June 28, 2021
In this exclusive essay, Prof. Arkes argues that the conservative justices have become caught in a mirage with their opinions in the recent Fulton case. Finally resolving the issue, he argues, requires them to return to its root.

Fulton and the Future of Religious Liberty

June 23, 2021
Gerard Bradley analyzes the recent decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia, and suggests that the Smith case may be on its last legs.

The Imperative of a Boring Judiciary

June 17, 2021
Eric Hageman responds to David Forte and "A Better Originalism," warning that illegitimate lawmaking by judges is not the solution to the current problem of an overreaching judiciary.

What is Jurisprudence?

June 16, 2021

In Defense of "A Better Originalism"

May 12, 2021
Prof. Hadley Arkes responds to John Grove's critique of the James Wilson call for conservatives to adopt an originalism of moral substance.

Originalism and Its Discontents

May 6, 2021
Prof. David Forte responds to "A Better Originalism," reminding we must look at the Constitution as a whole, both its legal presence and its moral principles.

A Better Originalism

March 29, 2021
JWI has released a new statement of purpose in collaboration with the American mind, which calls upon conservatives to adopt an originalism of moral substance in the wake of Bostock v. Clayton County.

The Constitution's "Value Judgements"

March 3, 2021
Gerard V. Bradley responds to the claim that Natural Law reasoning is simply Value Judgments.

What is Natural Law?

March 1, 2021

Why Positive Law Needs Natural Law

February 23, 2021
Justin Dyer explains why Originalism at its root requires a foundation in Natural Law to make coherent sense.

Letter to a Noble Lawyer

February 11, 2021
Prof. Arkes begins the new series of colloquium by responding to concerns from a lawyer friend about the use of Natural Law in judicial decisions.

Memories of Michael Uhlmann

February 18, 2020
Anchoring Truths
Anchoring Truths is a James Wilson Institute project
The James Wilson Institute’s Mission is to restore to a new generation of lawyers, judges, and citizens the understanding of the American Founders about the first principles of our law and the moral grounds of their own rights.
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