Author Archives: Justin Stapley

Lockean Theory Was Abstract, Until the American Founding

Increasingly, the predominant political traditions of our country are engaging in a steady abandonment, or at least a downplaying, of American liberalism. No, not modern liberalism but the classical liberal theories and institutions of the founders. Specifically, I have noticed that many are setting their rhetorical sights on John Locke. John Locke was a 17th century English philosopher and is often considered the “Father of Liberalism.” Thomas Jefferson once spoke of Locke as one of the greatest men that ever […]

The Constitution is More than an Out-of-Power Buzzword

It’s become a time-honored tradition in recent American history for the out-of-power concerns to begin talking about the US Constitution, the checks and balances of our Republic, and federalism. Often, resurgent forces rally to the idea of Constitutional values and fight to take back control of the wheels of government, swearing to reaffirm the ideals of the American Republic. Such was the case when Donald Trump tweeted this in 2015: And such was the case when Bernie Sanders tweeted this […]

US Constitution|Timeless Truths

I have often considered it unfortunate that those who call the US Constitution a “Living” document, do so to argue for the flexibility of its meaning. When I first heard the term “Living Constitution,” it brought a completely different picture into my mind. For me, the Constitution lives because the founders built it on consistent truths of the human condition. It lives in us because it was the first governing document which crafted a constituted government designed to keep men […]

Does the Constitution Hang by a Thread?

Some say that large, centralized government began with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal. Others point to Woodrow Wilson and the expanded powers granted to his presidency during World War I’s “war socialism.” Some go to Theodore Roosevelt; whose strong personality transformed the US Presidency from a symbolic figurehead to the active modern role it plays today. I often go even further into history and comment on the great powers seized by the Radical Republicans after the Civil War, […]

What Are Constitutional Values?

The US Constitution doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are strong ideological and philosophical underpinnings behind its provisions and framework. In American society, “unconstitutional” is a tremendously heavy word, often tossed around with surprising ease. However, despite the frequency of its use, I have often observed there is an inconsistency with its meaning. There have been many times I have called certain policies unconstitutional and even pointed out certain visions which are in contempt of the constitutional order. Often, I’m […]

Experience, The Oracle of Truth

Often, Americans speak of the US Constitution as if it is the fountain from which political truth originates. Even those who fight stridently for constitutional orthodoxy sometimes forget that the US Constitution and the rest of America’s founding documents were just as much a climax of political thought as they were a beginning.    In my previous article for the Federalist Coalition, I cautioned against allowing federalism to become a casualty of the culture war when I asserted that “federalism […]

The Culture War and Federalism

Federalism is one of the few political mechanisms that benefits everyone. All sides of the political divide should be wary of allowing it to become a casualty in the ever-escalating culture war. The system of federalism created by the Constitution of the United States formed a union of sovereign states. While modern Americans do not generally think of themselves in terms of state identity and citizenship as much as their ancestors did, our laws still maintain a Republic of individual […]

A Shot Across Federalism’s Bow

It would be difficult to find another piece of legislation originating in the United States House of Representatives which attempts to side-step the notions of federalism, state sovereignty, and unalienable rights more than the For the People Act of 2019. The 116th Congress began its year by introducing its first piece of major legislation on January 3rd, imperiously named the For the People Act of 2019. The Bill summary states that the proposal “addresses voter access, election integrity, election security, […]

Marx vs. Jefferson

Our political conflict can often be boiled down to the stark differences in how Karl Marx and Thomas Jefferson viewed history and their different beliefs about the role of government in crafting the future. Of all the American founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson was perhaps the most strident student of enlightenment thinking and the most avowed individualist.  When he looked at what he had helped craft in the American republic, he saw a nation founded on ordered liberty.  He believed in […]

Federalism and Crisis Government

No emergency, real or imagined, is so immediate that we should place our rights and liberties at risk. The 20th Century can easily be called a century of change when it comes to the relationship ordinary citizens have with their government.  Nearly every decade was faced with unique and paradigm shifting programs and agendas which changed the nature of American governance.  Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism, Woodrow Wilson’s War Socialism, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on […]