The Constitution, the Courts, and the Culture

The proper role of the courts in construing the Constitution is one of the most hotly contested issues in American society. Competing conceptions of the role of the courts animate election battles and fuel disputes over Supreme Court rulings, judicial nominations, and proposed constitutional amendments.

EPPC’s program on The Constitution, the Courts, and the Culture, under the direction of EPPC Distinguished Senior Fellow Edward Whelan, explores these competing conceptions and promotes principles of constitutional originalism and judicial restraint. We focus, in particular, on what is at stake for American culture writ large—for the ability of the American people to engage in responsible self-government and to maintain the “indispensable supports” of “political prosperity” that George Washington (and other Founders) understood “religion and morality” to be.

Through his program work, including his award-winning blogging on National Review Online’s Bench Memos, Mr. Whelan has been an influential commentator on confirmation battles for Supreme Court justices and lower-court judges.

Click here to sign up for email distributions of blog posts and other writings by Ed Whelan.

Program Publications

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Denial Should Have Been Unanimous

Edward Whelan

Last night the Supreme Court denied abortion providers’ beyond–audacious request for emergency relief against the Texas Heartbeat Act by a 5–4 vote. The feebleness of the four dissents shows that the denial should have been 9–0.

Articles

National Review Online / September 2, 2021

Chief Justice Roberts, Judicial Restraint, and Dobbs

Edward Whelan

For Chief Justice Roberts and other proponents of judicial restraint, stare decisis considerations should be especially weak when—as with Roe and Casey—the precedent under examination has usurped the democratic processes.

Articles

National Review Online / August 25, 2021

Chief Justice Roberts, Stare Decisis, and Dobbs

Edward Whelan

For anyone trying to understand how Chief Justice Roberts’s jurisprudential principles apply to the question whether he should vote to overrule Roe and Casey, the Chief’s concurring opinion in Citizens United v. FEC (2010) is essential reading.

Articles

National Review Online / August 24, 2021

A Quick Guide to Today’s Opinions in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

Edward Whelan

In one of the most-watched cases of the term, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled today in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia that the city of Philadelphia violated the free-exercise rights of Catholic Social Services, a Catholic foster-care agency, by conditioning CSS’s continued provision of foster-care services on its agreeing to certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

Articles

National Review Online / June 17, 2021

Doubts About Constitutional Personhood

Edward Whelan

The only plausible path to imminent legal protection of the unborn has as its first step overturning Roe and restoring abortion policy to the states.

Articles

First Things / April 8, 2021

The Unsoundness and Imprudence of “Common-Good Originalism”

Edward Whelan

The immediate aftermath of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment to the Supreme Court is a strange time to urge conservatives to repudiate Justice Antonin Scalia’s twin interpretive methodologies of originalism and textualism.

Articles

Public Discourse / March 2, 2021

Justice Barrett Would Extend Scalia’s Legacy

Edward Whelan

Amy Coney Barrett’s record, both as a judge and in her earlier career as a distinguished law professor at Notre Dame, shows both her profound commitment to Justice Scalia’s principles of textualism and originalism and her stellar ability to implement them.

Articles