“What government may not do”

In The Conservative Sensibility (p. xxvii), George Will asserts that American conservatism understood the new nation as free from a feudal past, … free from an established church and an entrenched aristocracy. … (and) receptive to intellectual pluralism….

Will said the American revolution did not attempt to define and deliver happiness … but set people free to define and pursue it as they please. Americans codified their Founding documents as a natural rights republic in an exceptional Constitution, one that does not say what government must do for them but what government may not do to them….

In 2022, we’re learning about an agenda of some on the Supreme Court to revoke a series of human agency rights about birthing and one’s choice of a partner; and we’re learning more about an attempted coup to prevent the lawful agency of voters to effect the peaceful transfer of presidential power. With that as context, hear Will’s 2019 reflection about the importance of human agency:

the Founding experience was the result of, and affirmed the potency of, human agency. …America’s central government is … constructed to limit the discretion of those in power by balancing rival centers of power.

From “The Trump court limited women’s rights using 19th-century standards,” a perspective by Yale Law School professor Reva Siegel, The Washington Post, June 25, 2022

2 thoughts on ““What government may not do””

    1. The court’s recent activism has caused a lot of us to do more homework. I’ve dusted off some brain cells and it’s encouraging to see others (scholars, judges, attorneys and journalists) turning out good work like this.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s