Bench Memos

Any Port in a Storm

Perhaps I am being cynical, but this article (h/t Joe Knippenberg at NLT) in The New Republic by Douglas T. Kendall and James E. Ryan strikes me as a real hoot.  Or maybe I am responding to the refreshingly candid cynicism of the authors, who think that Democrats can win the arguments over the Constitution–and elections, to the extent they turn on such arguments–by faking being originalists.

I don’t know what other conclusion to draw from an article that uses, as its prominent example of progressive originalism, the recent “conversion” of Yale law professor Jack Balkin to “fidelity to the original meaning of the Constitution,” proclaimed in the course of his arguing that the text and history of the Fourteenth Amendment support . . . the right to abortion.

The editors of TNR seem to have gotten the joke.  They title the piece “Origin Myth.”  Who was it who said that sincerity is so important a political quality that politicians must learn to fake it?

Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

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