Bench Memos

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George Weigel on the Chief’s Obamacare Opinion


In this excellent NRO essay today, my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague George Weigel contemplates the “deeper truths” of the Chief’s opinion, truths that do not depend on a judgment that the Chief’s ruling was correct. A sampling:

The deepest of the “deeper truths” that one might find in Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion is that America’s success in forming a more perfect union, providing for the general welfare, and ensuring the blessings of liberty to our posterity ultimately rests on the strength of American political culture. And here, the sensus plenior of the Roberts opinion intersects with the social doctrine of Pope John Paul II, especially in the 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus. Democracy, the Polish pontiff taught, is not a machine that can run by itself. It requires a critical mass of democrats — men and women who have internalized the habits of mind and heart that make responsible self-governance possible — to make democracy work. Beneath the functions of democratic government lies the character of a people. And if the machinery has become dysfunctional, then it is time for the people to examine their conscience about the ways in which they are living their freedom: nobly or basely, selfishly or philanthropically, responsibly or dependently?


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