Author Archives: Justin Stapley

Can We Still Be Like Mike?

As a product of the ‘90s, I pretty much idolized Michael Jordan like most boys did (even if as a Jazz fan, I still have strong feelings about whether or not he pushed off on Bryon Russell). MJ was a unifying figure in American culture, unlike what is likely possible in America’s present state. I’m sure there are many different reasons for this. He was a singular talent, he never backed down, and he was simply beautiful to watch.  But […]

What We Have Is Systemic Dysfunction

We have no single politician, news outlet, public figure, or institution to blame for the contentious spirit that currently grips our nation. Ultimately, we have lost a single necessary ingredient of free society that allows people of different beliefs and viewpoints to be able to function and live alongside each other: respectful disagreement. These days disagreement is seen as a personal attack and a fundamental assault as opposed to simply a differing perspective. Instead of viewing someone’s disagreement as an […]

A New Birth of Freedom

Every Memorial Day, I set aside a few minutes to read the powerful but surprisingly brief words of the Gettysburg Address. I am always impressed by Lincoln’s ability to, in so few words, deliver something so profound and so timeless. We often talk about how America is an idea. But, the brave men of Lincoln’s address and the brave souls of men and women across the history of our nation have not only hallowed the battlefields where they labored in […]

Cato and Eternal Principles

In many ways, the American Republic was a resurrection of the Roman Republic. The founders embraced this idea. That’s why they named the upper chamber of Congress after the Roman Senate. That’s why so many of our government buildings and landmarks are so obviously designed using Roman architectural inspiration. It’s why we put Latin on our coinage and use Latin terms and mottos throughout government, the arts, and in education. Consider, for a moment, that the Roman Republic ended before […]

What Is Judicial Activism?

The question of judicial activism is a hotly debated and extremely divisive issue. Often, this is because the consequences of judicial decisions can be substantial. In expressing the issue of judicial activism, I have often asked myself several surface questions. Is the law a living entity? Should judges take into account changing circumstances to revise the law? Should the legislative branch alone make laws? Should the judicial branch only determine constitutionality?  To supplement these surface questions, I often ask several […]

Voting Should Be the Culmination of Civic Engagement

We have begun another election year in earnest. As we slowly creep towards November 3rd, more and more Americans will gradually tune in to the political conversation. But, if this year is typical, only slightly more than half of the voting-age population will cast a ballot. This unfortunate figure has led to both partisan and nonpartisan efforts to “turn out the vote.” I remember in 2008, as a young LDS missionary in Cleveland, watching the buses come pouring into low-income […]

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, […]