Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

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!

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

Saturday, April 2, 2016

"The Case of the Little Sisters of the Poor"

Cathleen Kaveny, the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor at Boston College--holding appointments both in the School of Law and in the Department of Theology--has just posted to SSRN an excellent paper:  Law, Religion, and Conscience in a Pluralistic Society:  The Case of the Little Sisters of the Poor.  You can download the paper here.


April 2, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Doug Laycock's Op-Ed on Zubik v. Burwell

Few if any academic lawyers have done more to protect religious liberty than Doug Laycock.  In his op-ed on Zubik v. Burwell, published in the Washington Post on March 20, Doug writes:  "I had never before filed a brief in support of the government in a case about the free exercise of religion."  If you haven't already read Doug's op-ed, here it is.

March 24, 2016 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Push Within Religions for Gay Marriage Gets Little Attention"

That's the title of an article in the "On Religion" column that appears every Saturday in the New York Times.  The article, by Samuel G. Freedman, will be of great interest to MOJ readers.  Here.

July 27, 2015 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Friday, July 3, 2015

John Stinneford on GLOSSIP v. GROSS

MOJ friend John Stinneford, professor of law at the University of Florida, has published a discerning commentary on--and, I think, a persuasive critique of--the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this week in Glossip v. Gross, the lethal injection case in which several justices debate the question of the constitutionality of capital punishment.  Consider what John has to say, here.  For those who would like to read the case itself, here it is:  Glossip v. Gross (2015).

July 3, 2015 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Obergefell v. Hodges: An Imagined Opinion, Concurring in the Judgment

In Obergefell v. Hodges, decided on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage is unconstitutional. Sometimes the appropriate response to a judicial decision is: “Right ruling, but wrong — or, at least, problematic — reasoning.” Is that the appropriate response — or an appropriate response — to the Court’s decision in Obergefell?

This brief paper (here) is an imagined opinion — an opinion by an imaginary justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Nemo — concurring in the Court’s judgment in Obergefell. In the opinion, Justice Nemo articulates a basis for the Court’s judgment that she believes to be preferable, on a number of grounds, to the somewhat diffuse mix of rationales on which the majority relies. Justice Nemo begins her opinion by explaining why one of the rationales included in the mix on which the majority relies — an “equal protection” rationale — is, in her view, a problematic basis for the Court’s judgment.

In her opinion, Justice Nemo relies on an insight of the celebrated Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray, who is no doubt familiar to the five Catholic justices of the Supreme Court.

June 30, 2015 in Perry, Michael | Permalink

Friday, June 5, 2015

On the Constitutionality and Political Morality of Granting Conscience-Protecting Exemptions Only to Religious Believers

This paper was my contribution to the conference on “The Scope of Religious Exemptions,” hosted by the Bowling Green State University Department of Philosophy, April 17-18, 2015.  I explain in the paper that both the constitutional law of the United States and the political morality of human rights converge on the conclusion that government may not grant conscience-protecting exemptions only to religious believers.

June 5, 2015 in Perry, Michael | Permalink