This page holds what I hope will be a growing number of Op-Eds and presentations that examine conservatism, the Christian Right, and the emergent Christian conservative legal movement (CCLM) in contemporary politics. As such, the collected pieces move away from a more specific focus on abortion politics.
“Separate But Faithful Book Talk,” Berkeley Law: American Constitution Society & Catholics at Berkeley Law, March 2, 2021.
- Berkeley Law’s chapters of the American Constitution Society and Catholics at Berkeley hosted Amanda Hollis-Brusky (Politics, Pomona College) and I to discuss our recent book, Separate but Faithful: The Christian Right’s Radical Struggle to Transform Law & Legal Culture (Oxford 2020). The talk was driven by the hosts’ questions, which are captured in the linked recording, followed by audience questions that were not recorded.
“Separate But Faithful on the New Books Network Podcast,” February 22, 2021.
- Susan Liebell (Political Science, Saint Joseph’s University), the host of New Books in Political Science, interviewed Amanda Hollis-Brusky (Politics, Pomona College) and I regarding our recent book, Separate but Faithful: The Christian Right’s Radical Struggle to Transform Law & Legal Culture (Oxford 2020). The 1.25 hour podcast–listed on the New Books Network‘s Book of the Day, Political Science, Law, American Studies, and Christian Studies pages–is a free flowing interview conversation that still systematically moves through the book as a whole.
“Look Beyond Trump’s Language to See the Roots of Recent Political Violence,” Washington Post/Monkey Cage, January 11, 2021.
- In this piece I argue that the January 6, 2021 violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was not just the product of Trump’s rhetoric at the preceding rally or over the course of his presidency. Rather, that it was also the product of nearly 60 years of conservative rhetoric demonizing the federal government and mobilizing White anger. In doing so, I review some of the scholarship on the history of how the Republican Party has marshaled these dangerous forces.
- The University of Denver’s Center on American Politics graciously invited Professors Paul Collins (Political Science, U. Mass Amherst) and Andrew Lewis (Political Science, University of Cincinnati) to discuss Amanda Hollis-Brusky (Politics, Pomona College) and my recent book, Separate but Faithful: The Christian Right’s Radical Struggle to Transform Law & Legal Culture (Oxford 2020). The talk involves two roughly 10-minute formal presentations by Professors Collins and Lewis, as well as a roughly 30-minute Q&A session.
“Can Biden Unify the Country? California v. Texas Says It All,” Newsweek, November 9, 2020.
- This piece discusses American political history, institutional structure, and contemporary politics via the contrast between President-elect Biden’s repeated theme of restoring national unity, with the Supreme Court’s hearing of California v. Texas–another conservative challenge to the Affordable Care Act. It covers a very broad range of time and issues in an attempt to illuminate how the present and future political fights are structured by our history, Constitution, and the slowly changing electoral landscape.
“A Conservative Legal Movement Rose Alongside Ginsburg. Barrett Is Its Apex,” Newsweek, October 15, 2020.
- Starting with the conservative takeover of the GOP marked by Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election, this piece uses Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s career on the bench as a touchstone for the parallel rise of the secular and religious conservative legal movements, and how they come together with the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court. It ends by noting that Barrett, “is well positioned to become an icon antithetical to the one that she has been tapped to replace. Unlike Ginsburg, however, who rose to this status through her dissents, Barrett stands to join a court where her notoriety can come from writing majority opinions for a conservative movement that has been building toward this for the course of the former’s career on the bench, and the latter’s life.”
“Why Aren’t Any Evangelicals on the Supreme Court?” POLITICO Magazine, October 3, 2020.
- The POLITICO article that sparked the below-mentioned podcast episode. Like that more open conversation, this piece puts the conservative Catholic majority–and the white evangelical absence–on the Supreme Court in a broader historic and political context. Unlike the podcast, however, this article also explains why white evangelicals are such a dominant presence within the GOP, but not in the conservative legal movement.
“6 Catholics, 1 Court: SCOTUS and the rise of the Federalist Society,” POLITICO Nerdcast Podcast, October 2, 2020.
- A long-form conversation with the POLITICO Nerdcast covering the rise of the Federalist Society, the secular and religious conservative legal movements, the reconceptualization of law as a religious calling, and why it is that Catholics–and not white evangelicals–occupy the positions of power within the conservative legal movement.
“Separate But Faithful Book Launch Talk,” University of California, Irvine Law’s Center for the Empirical Research of Law & the Legal Profession, October 1, 2020.
- The UCI Law Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession graciously hosted Amanda Hollis-Brusky, Associate Professor of Politics at Pomona College, and I to discuss our recent book, Separate but Faithful: The Christian Right’s Radical Struggle to Transform Law & Legal Culture (Oxford 2020). The talk involves both a 20 minute formal presentation giving an overview of the book, as well as a 30 minute Q&A session with participants.
“Trump’s Dangerous MAGA Kitsch,” Newsweek, September 25, 2020.
- Using Milan Kundera’s discussion of “political kitsch” in his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being as a lens, this piece considers a range of Trump’s statements about race, discrimination, education, elections, etc as evidence of his fondness for political tactics and language commonly seen in fascist governments. As such, while he intends to highlight and defend American exceptionalism, he is, in fact, doing the opposite.
“Romney and Republicans Are Doubling Down on Being Trump’s Party,” Newsweek, September 22, 2020.
- This piece looks at the GOP’s rush to fill the seat opened by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing as an act of power that breaks with the principle that politics is differentiated from naked power by the need to legitimate power’s use, and as a re-dedication to their being the party of Trump. It also considers how the Republican party has used the federal bench as a means to create a fortress to protect their interests given their increasingly uncertain electoral future.
“The Supreme Court’s Culture War Whiplash is All in Your Head,” Newsweek, July 9, 2020. (co-authored with Amanda Hollis-Brusky)
- With a string of 5 “culture war” opinions released in the course of a month, the Court’s face value rulings appear to hand out wins to both progressives and social conservatives. In this piece, though, we argue that the Christian Right’s record is far stronger than it first appears–both in the immediate, and, importantly, moving into the future.
“Calling the Protests a ‘City Problem’ Is a Dangerous Dog Whistle,” Newsweek, June 10, 2020.
- Using a tweet from Republican District Attorney George Brauchler as a start, this piece discusses the history of systemic racism—and its strong geographic components—in the United States, and how they relate to the Black Lives Matter protests from Spring 2020. In doing so, the piece argues that to refer to these events as a “city problem” masks their systemic underpinning, illuminating in part both why they and the protests persist.
“The Christian Right: Building a Distinctly American Political Movement” The Livingston Lecture, May 14, 2020.
- This is the recording of the 2020 Livingston Lecture presented virtually for the University of Denver, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Given the online format required by COVID-19, the talk is broken into two parts that are roughly 20 minutes each. Both segments are taken from research performed for the book Separate But Faithful. The first covers a brief institutional history of the Christian Right, while the second speaks to why and how the Christian Right entered the judicial arena to continue to pursue its political ends.
“To change the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders’ supporters should learn from evangelicals,” NBC News – THINK, March 12, 2020.
- This piece uses the history of the Christian Right’s rise to real political power within the Republican party as a roadmap for Progressive activists to do the same in the Democratic party. Doing so will require them to stop attacking, and rather work for and with, the party.
“The Christian Conservative Moves to Transform Law Through Legal Education,” Law & Society Blog, November 8, 2018.
- This is a blog post summarizing some of the findings from Prof. Amanda Hollis-Brusky & my 2018 Law & Society Review article, “Higher Law: Can Christian Conservatives Transform Law Through Legal Education?”
“The Christian Right’s Problematic Rights Claims,” The Hill, January 25, 2018.
- In response to the Department of Health and Human Services announced creation of a new arm of its civil rights office called the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom, I argue that, instead of protecting the rights of vulnerable populations against those who traditionally wield power, this new division stands to defend and exacerbate existing and historic inequalities, and possibly cause real harm to individuals. The piece cites work from Daniel Bennett’s recent book, Defending Faith, Andrew Lewis’s recent book, The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics, as well as Daniel Williams’s God’s Own Party.
“Religious ****** is Hiding Behind Arguments for Free Speech,” Newsweek, December 7, 2017. (I have edited the title here given my objection to Newsweek’s wording.)
- This piece examines the public presentation of the US Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v Colorado Civil Rights Commission in light of both the the CCLM’s, and Alliance Defending Freedom’s intermingled histories to show how the conservative Christian legal movement has increased its abilities to engage in the politics of rights. The piece cites work from Daniel Bennett’s recent book, Defending Faith, as well as Steven Brown’s Trumping Religion, and Daniel Williams’s God’s Own Party.
“How the Christian Right Has Come to Love Trump,” Newsweek, June 29, 2017 (co-authored with Amanda Hollis-Brusky)
- This shows how the Christian Right rank and file has followed their leadership in prizing political pragmatism over their previous conceptions of principle.
“Pro/Con: Will its Support of President Trump Hurt the Christian Right?” CQ Researcher, June 23, 2017 (co-authored with Amanda Hollis-Brusky)
- This piece gives an argument as to why the Christian Right stands to benefit from their support for the Trump administration. As such, it is placed in contrast to another piece arguing that the Christian Right stands to lose from this relationship.
“What Christian Colleges Stand to Gain with Trump,” RealClearEducation, February 10, 2017
- This piece considers the ways in which the Christian Right stands to benefit from the Trump administration – from education policy, to the courts.