Bench Memos

My NR Essay on Federalism and Marriage

The new issue (cover dated Dec. 31) of National Review includes my essay—“Federalism and Marriage: The Supreme Court should stay out of the way”—on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8 cases now before the Supreme Court. The essay is available here to digital subscribers. Here’s the opening paragraph:

When supporters of same-sex marriage attack the federal Defense of Marriage Act, they invoke purported federalism concerns about the authority of the states to regulate marriage. But when they sue to strike down state marriage laws as unconstitutional, those federalism concerns disappear. The Supreme Court’s recent decision to review lower-court rulings against both the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, which reinstated traditional marriage in that state, provides the Court a clear opportunity to set right the relationship between marriage and federalism. It should rule that both DOMA and Prop 8 are constitutionally sound.

(For anyone who confusedly thinks that invalidating DOMA would advance the cause of federalism, I encourage you to read the piece or, if you don’t have ready access to it, these posts of mine.)

Most Popular



For your amusement, I hope, I’ve done a Jaywalking episode. It begins with a bit of the overture to Semiramide -- a Rossini opera I reviewed from the Met last week. Then I get into Russia and, after a while, China. The Marriott company fired an employee for “liking” a tweet by a Tibetan independence group. ... Read More

Campaigns for World Down Syndrome Day Go Viral

As World Down Syndrome Day approaches on Wednesday, several campaigns supporting those with the condition have taken over the Internet. Fifty mothers of children with the condition put together a viral video of them and their children singing along in the car. The video helped the children and their mothers ... Read More

Viva l’Italia?

Italy has just had elections, with very interesting results. I wanted to talk with Alberto Mingardi, which I have. He is one of the leading classical liberals in Italy -- the director general of the Bruno Leoni Institute, in Milan. (Mingardi himself is Milanese.) He is also an authority in arts and letters. In ... Read More

Putin and the Cult of Leadership

On Sunday, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin won an unsurprising reelection-campaign victory against Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, by a margin of 76.7 percent to 11.8 percent. The results were unsurprising because Putin is a tyrant who murders or imprisons political rivals, and who isn’t afraid to use ... Read More

Trump and Brexit Derangement Syndrome

I am not one of those Brexiteers who believe that Brexit and Trumpism are essentially the same phenomenon in two different countries. To be sure, they both draw on some of the same political trends, notably a distrust of elites and an upsurge of popular anger over evident failures of public policy such as illegal ... Read More