David French on how judges are saving the republic

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By Richard V. Reeves. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

America is either a plural republic or it dies. Right now, the judiciary is keeping pluralism shielded from attacks from both the political left and right. David French, one of our most thoughtful conservative public intellectuals, describes his own journey from partisan to a man without a tribe; how fighting in real war changed his view of the so-called culture war at home; the central importance of the Bill of Rights; the remarkable strength of religious liberty protections in our nation; why white Evangelicals flocked to Donald Trump ("white protestants have lost power and gained liberty and haven’t liked the exchange”, he says); how the judges, especially on the Supreme Court became "the only adults in the room"; the pros and cons of more federalism in public policy; and how the overturning of Roe v. Wade could de-escalate the culture wars. And much more.

A mini-rant from me

This conversation really made me realize how much liberal pluralists like me have come to rely on the courts now, with politicians on both sides proposing or even passing laws that are anti-pluralist and unconstitutional - and probably knowing that they are when they do it. Laws become signals of whose side you’re on, rather than of actual policy intent. The dangerous point we’ve got to is of an illiberal, performative politics held at bay only by the judiciary, which is holding the line and maintaining our liberal republic, much to the frustration, depending on the day, of the culture warriors on both sides but to the enormous relief and eternal gratitude of all liberals. The judges are keeping the Republic safe, for now. But we can’t ask the courts to do this job forever, they can’t remain in DF’s phrase, the only grown up in the room. Also there is growing pressure to appoint more politically reliable judges in the future, rather than the constitution-loving, liberty-protecting, precedent-respecting bunch we have at the moment. We need a grown-up politics rather than the pantomime we have been subject to in recent years.

David French

David French is a leading political thinker and commentator focusing on the intersection of law, culture, and religion. He is currently a senior editor of the Dispatch and a columnist at Time. Formerly, he was a senior writer for National Review and served as the President for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. French holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and has worked on numerous religious-rights issues. Additionally, he served as senior counsel for American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom. In 2007, French was deployed to Iraq and served as a squadron judge advocate.

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The Dialogues Team

Creator: Richard Reeves

Research: Ashleigh Maciolek

Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas

Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves

Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

22 episodes