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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DOJ Faces Steep Slope in United States v. Texas

Edward Whelan

The justices who dissented from the Supreme Court’s denial of the abortion providers’ request for emergency relief against the Texas Heartbeat Act might think that they have a path to winning a majority in the DOJ case against the law. But the path is steep and deceptively treacherous.

Articles

National Review Online / October 26, 2021

A Reply to Hadley Arkes on Originalism and Roe

Edward Whelan

There are (at least) six justices on the Court who ought to recognize in the pending case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the originalist case against Roe is overwhelming. It is neither sound in principle nor helpful in practice to try to persuade those justices that they may overrule Roe only if they make a moral argument against abortion.

Articles

National Review Online / October 4, 2021

Hadley Arkes’s Straw-Man Argument for a ‘Better Originalism’ on Roe

Edward Whelan

There is plenty of room for methodological disputes within originalism, but a recent critique of the dominant originalism is unpersuasive.

Articles

National Review Online / September 30, 2021

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