Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How Did We Get Here?

That's the title of a discerning essay, on our present political situation, over at Commonweal (here).  An excerpt:

Neither party, then, offers a compelling vision of human well-being. The Republicans stand up for the unborn and families, but they refuse to address the economic and social roots of abortion and the precariousness material conditions that threaten so many families. The Democrats support basic economic fairness and stand against racism, but they are most animated by the right of each individual to choose their own conception of the good. They are more interested in tolerance and diversity than in true solidarity. Neither party espouses a conception of freedom oriented toward the common good. Libertarians dismiss the very idea of a common good, seeing only a collection of individual people with individual interests. Latter-day progressives start from a slightly different point of view but reach a very similar conclusion; they argue that a commitment to pluralism precludes any notion of a common good. Missing from both views is the deep sense that “we are all really responsible for all.”

July 7, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Religious Liberty in the Culture Wars

Commonweal has just published a terrific article titled False Choices & Religious Liberty:  Is There a Better Way Forward?  Terrific in part because balanced.  It begins with this:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops launches its annual Fortnight for Freedom campaign this week. A recent video from the conference illustrates how unhinged the debates over religious liberty have become. Pairing images of Islamic State militants ready to behead Christian prisoners with ominous warnings of the Obama administration’s harassment of religious ministries epitomizes how the hierarchy risks making itself its own worst enemy on the issue. (For more, see the recent Commonweal editorial, “Lights, Camera, Contraception?”) Even many faithful Catholics who should be most sympathetic to the church’s arguments have grown weary of the divisiveness and worry that the all-consuming quality of the religious-liberty battle now seems to define American Catholicism. At the same time, the perversion of religious liberty into a bludgeon against women’s health, workers’ rights, and LGBT equality has caused some progressives to forget that religious freedom is a fundamentally liberal value. Finding a better approach that rescues religious liberty from the culture wars is challenging, essential work.

Read the rest, here.

June 21, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Saturday, June 18, 2016

First Anniversary of Laudato Si'

Laudato Si' was published on June 18, 2015.  For a wonderfully informative account of what has followed, in the past year, read this account.  An excerpt:

For those long engaged in environmental issues, the encyclical proved a valuable rallying tool, one that opened doors, spurred mobilization and generated not-seen-before excitement within Catholic circles.

"I cannot wish for anything better," said Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, which oversaw the first draft of the encyclical. Since its publication last June 18, Turkson has served as its chief promoter, traveling across the globe to deliver countless talks on Laudato Si'.

"I think it has proven to be really transformative," said Tomás Insua, co-founder of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. "But there's definitely a long way to go to really get this encyclical to really sync in our Catholic identity and really drive transformational change." ...

As far as the long-term impact, Turkson placed Laudato Si' into the larger compendium of social encyclicals, describing them together "like a big river," with new tributaries forming as it flows forward. Like past encyclicals, such as Rerum Novarum, it too will stimulate future teachings and ideas, he said.

"But it is forever going to inspire the church's teaching on ecology and integral ecology."

June 18, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hillary Clinton: Another, and Rather Different, View

After reading Rick's post, I noticed that Cornell law prof Steve Shiffrin (here) and others have linked to this defense of Hillary Clinton, a defense now attracting a lot of attention on the web.  Thought that given Rick's post, some MOJ readers would be interested in reading another view.

June 14, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"The Bathroom Wars"

That's the title of a characteristically thoughtful post by Perry Dane, who is, as many of us here at MOJ know, a highly respected scholar of law and religion.  The post begins with this:

So, on the one hand, …. I find myself befuddled by the North Carolina “bathroom law” and other extreme responses to transgender rights and the assertion of transgender identity.  I say this as someone who generally appreciates the force of conservative views of sex and sexuality even when I disagree with them.  For example, though I fully support same-sex marriage, I am on record arguing that the debate was more complex than partisans on either side wanted to admit.

But the transgender question is different.

And the post ends with this:

The bathroom fights are unnecessary (though perhaps explainable, like so much else these days, as symbolic skirmishes in our hyper-polarized political war of all against all.)  Traditionalists who write laws that insist, for example, that even bearded transsexual men who happen to have been born as anatomic females should use women’s bathrooms, are just being silly, not to mention oppressive and unjust.  And most of the country is more than happy to respect the individual rights of transgender and other folks.  But the current fight is also both a harbinger of, and a distraction from, a more profound debate down the road.  The deeper challenge lurking here, going well beyond individual rights, is to our collective identity as human beings.

The entire post, here, is well worth considering.

nd, …. I find myself befuddled by the North Carolina “bathroom law” and other extreme responses to transgender rights and the assertion of transgender identity.  I say this as someone who generally appreciates the force of conservative views of sex and sexuality even when I disagree with them.  For example, though I fully support same-sex marriage, I am on record arguing that the debate was more complex than partisans on either side wanted to admit.

But the transgender question is different.

I do understand some basic premises of the “traditionalist” position. 

- See more at: http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/#sthash.9xb8i67L.dpuf

So, on the one hand, …. I find myself befuddled by the North Carolina “bathroom law” and other extreme responses to transgender rights and the assertion of transgender identity.  I say this as someone who generally appreciates the force of conservative views of sex and sexuality even when I disagree with them.  For example, though I fully support same-sex marriage, I am on record arguing that the debate was more complex than partisans on either side wanted to admit.

But the transgender question is different.

I do understand some basic premises of the “traditionalist” position. 

- See more at: http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/#sthash.9xb8i67L.dpuf

So, on the one hand, …. I find myself befuddled by the North Carolina “bathroom law” and other extreme responses to transgender rights and the assertion of transgender identity.  I say this as someone who generally appreciates the force of conservative views of sex and sexuality even when I disagree with them.  For example, though I fully support same-sex marriage, I am on record arguing that the debate was more complex than partisans on either side wanted to admit.

But the transgender question is different.

I do understand some basic premises of the “traditionalist” position. 

- See more at: http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/#sthash.9xb8i67L.dpuf

May 24, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Saturday, May 7, 2016

"Remembering Daniel Berrigan: A Penniless, Powerful Voice for Peace"

That's the headline on a front-page story in today's New York Times, here.  Two excerpts:

"Deeds, not things, made Father Berrigan one of the best-known Roman Catholic priests of the 20th century:  His physical possessions barely filled the modest room in the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University in the Bronx where he spent his final years.  He departed indifferently penniless from a world that often seems to keep score in gilded ink."

"Father Berrigan drew inspiration from Dorothy Day, who helped found the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933 to bring fresh, radical life to the church’s teachings on social justice. Among other things, Catholic Worker communities across the country feed, clothe and shelter those in need."

May 7, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Zen Poem," by Daniel Berrigan

How I long for supernatural powers!
said the novice mournfully to the holy one.
I see a dead child
and I long to say, Arise!
I see a sick man
I long to say, Be healed!
I see a bent old woman
I long to say, Walk straight!
Alas, I feel like a dead stick in paradise.
Master, can you confer on me
supernatural powers?

The old man shook his head fretfully
How long have I been with you
and you know nothing?
How long have you known me
and learned nothing?
Listen; I have walked the earth for 80 years
I have never raised a dead child
I have never healed a sick man
I have never straightened an old woman's spine

Children die
men grow sick
the aged fall
under a stigma of frost

And what is that to you or me
but the turn of the wheel
but the way of the world
but the gateway to paradise?

Supernatural powers!
Then you would play God
would spin the thread of life and measure the thread
5 years, 50 years, 80 years
and cut the thread?

Supernatural powers!
I have wandered the earth for 80 years
I confess to you,
sprout without root
root without flower
I know nothing of supernatural powers
I have yet to perfect my natural powers!

to see and not be seduced
to hear and not be deafened
to taste and not be eaten
to touch and not be bought

But you-
would you walk on water
would you master the air
would you swallow fire?

Go talk with the dolphins
they will teach you glibly
how to grow gills

Go listen to eagles
they will hatch you, nest you
eaglet and airman

Go join the circus
those tricksters will train you
in deception for dimes-

Bird man, bag man, poor fish
spouting fire, moon crawling
at sea forever-
supernatural powers!

Do you seek miracles?
listen- go
draw water, hew wood
break stones-
how miraculous!

Listen; blessed is the one
who walks the earth 5 year, 50 years, 80 years
and deceives no one
and curses no one
and kills no one

On such a one
the angels whisper in wonder,
behold the irresistible power
of natural powers-
of height, of joy, of soul, of non belittling!

You dry stick-
in the crude soil of this world
spring, root, leaf, flower!

trace
around and around
and around-
an inch, a mile, the world's green extent,-
a liberated zone
of paradise!

May 1, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Five Constitutional Controversies, Five Judicial Opinions

The five constitutional controversies addressed by Justice Nemo in a paper just posted to SSRN (here) concern matters of interest to many MOJ readers, including capital punishment, same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, and abortion.  Here's the abstract:

In this paper, I address five controversies — controversies concerning constitutional rights — that have arisen under the constitutional law of the United States: the controversies concerning, respectively, capital punishment, race-based affirmative action, same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, and abortion. My discussion of each controversy takes the form of an opinion drafted by an imaginary justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Nemo. The five opinions by Justice Nemo serve to illustrate the implications, for the five controversies, of the theory of judicial review elaborated and defended in a paper I posted to SSRN last month: Michael J. Perry, "A Theory of Judicial Review" (2016), http://ssrn.com/abstract=2624978.

That is, Justice Nemo’s five opinions serve that illustrative function if they are truly faithful to that theory of judicial review, to which Justice Nemo professes to be committed. Are they? Justice Nemo is not always explicit in her opinions about her judicial philosophy; she nonetheless wants to draft opinions that align with her philosophy. A question to ask, then, about each of her five opinions: Has Justice Nemo succeeded in drafting an opinion faithful to the theory of judicial review to which she professes to be committed?

This paper is drawn from my new book, which will be published early next year by Cambridge University Press:  A Global Political Morality:  Human Rights, Democracy, and Constitutionalism.

April 27, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Friday, April 22, 2016

"When Bernie Met Francis"

Interesting commentary by University of St. Thomas law prof Charles Reid, here.  An excerpt:

One of the most important contributions that Catholic social thought can make to today’s progressive politics is a theory of the state as guarantor of a just and fair economic playing field. Bernie Sanders and others would be well-advised to draw deeply from this tradition.

In doing so, they would find themselves at odds with the last three-plus decades of political discourse, which has been all about de-legitimizing the state. When Ronald Reagan said in 1981 that “government is the problem, not the solution,” he likely did not believe it himself. But his rhetoric was careless. And surely it stands behind much of the reckless talk and dangerous politics emanating from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, the Tea Party fanatics, and the Ayn Rand libertarian right.

April 22, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Friday, April 8, 2016

Charles Taylor on Secular Democracy

Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus at McGill University, Montreal, is not only "one of the world's most celebrated living philosophers;" he is also a Catholic.  So his reflections on secular democracy should be of special interest to MOJ readers.

We are informed, at the end of his reflections, that "Professor Taylor will visit Sydney to launch Australian Catholic University's Institute for Social Justice at the Opera House on Thursday, 28 April, and will give two public lectures: "The Language Animal" on Friday, 22 April, and "Secularism and Religious and Spiritual Forms of Belonging" on Friday, 29 April."  Let's stay tuned.

April 8, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink