Author Archives: Justin Stapley

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, […]

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 […]