Monday, October 10, 2011

Catholicism, classical liberalism and the American Constitution

An interesting take on those topics can be found in this post over at the Ius Honorarium blog: Catholicized America.  The author takes aim at theories that attempt to demonstrate that the federal Constitution is an embodiment of traditionalist natural law ideas, while at the same time noting that the framers of the Constitution were shaped by such ideas, even if the authors of the document were themselves often unaware of those those ideas influence on the text they were drafting.  Here's a passage to inspire you to head over and read the whole thing:
I remain skeptical of the Catholic project of rehabilitating the Constitutional text in the hope of defeating the individualism and other excesses which many lament as a cancer on society. At the same time, an “originalist” approach to the Constitution is probably more likely to yield results favorable to traditionalist Catholics than otherwise. This is mainly because the Constitution, according to most originalists, does not contain binding prescriptions on many of the hot-button social and moral issues which concern Catholics. The “original Constitution,” generally speaking, leaves more room for the states to experiment and could, in theory, give rise to the type of localism which many traditionalist Catholics believe to be, on the basis of Catholic Social Teaching, more legitimate than our current, centralized form of government. But all of this still falls far short of turning the U.S. or any of its states into a confessional stronghold. Despite revisionist claims to the contrary, America was never on the verge of becoming a “Catholic country.” That fable, which seems to have some purchase amongst certain traditionalists, is more often deployed to decry Vatican II than paint an accurate picture of historical reality.
The post also has a delightful little dig at libertarian constitutional theory at the end, which I consider an added bonus!  Well worth a read.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

That fable, which seems to have some purchase amongst certain traditionalists

Never heard that one. The dreaded "some" and "certain," which means some nutburger on a 5000 radio station somewhere.

But the Supreme Court is almost all Catholic or Jewish. Interesting.