Entries by William C. Duncan

The foresight of Alexis de Tocqueville

A defining feature of contemporary politics is the increasingly belligerent sense of entitlement. That feature has always been part of the American scene, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 19th century. A few years ago, James Matthew Wilson wrote a powerful essay on Tocqueville and his predictions about the consequences of the spread of […]

Legislature holds the line on family issues

For issues related to the family, the 2016 legislative session took place in the shadow of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision mandating same-sex marriage in all of the states. As the session began, it appeared that having this decision in the background might result in a series of “unforced errors.” Some legislators appeared to believe […]

Justice Antonin Scalia: A man of character

A famous misquote of Ralph Waldo Emerson argues that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” (It’s a misquote because he modified “consistency” with “foolish.”) In an age that prizes idiosyncratic self-expression and ideological pragmatism, this modified saying certainly has its adherents. Whatever its value as a guide to choosing restaurants, it is a very […]

How courts are making light of religious beliefs

Earlier this month, an appeals court in New York upheld a $13,000 fine levied by the State Division of Human Rights against owners of a farm, part of which the owners rent out for weddings and receptions. Their offense was declining to host a same-sex marriage on their property. ($10,000 of the fine goes to […]

New research: Strong families good for economy

This week Sutherland Institute, along with BYU’s Wheatley Institution and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute, sponsored a presentation on new research examining the connections between strong families and strong economies in a state. Dr. Bradford Wilcox, who teaches at the University of Virginia and directs the National Marriage Project and Institute for Family Studies, […]

It’s the annual Christmas display tussle

It’s that time of year, when the world (really, just the U.S., we hope) goes to court to wrangle over Christmas displays. Here’s a sample of some of the latest disputes: The city of Wadena, Minn., removed a nativity scene that had traditionally been displayed at a publicly owned park after a self-described “Constitutional Conservative […]

How ‘elites’ led dramatic shift in favor of same-sex marriage

In 1999, Stanley Rothman and Amy Black published an analysis of opinions of leaders in seven fields: the bureaucracy, business, judges, lawyers, media, religion and entertainment. Their analysis showed a wide range of opinion on various issues. Some of the interesting data concerned changes in attitudes about various moral issues, measured as agreement with the […]

Of people and property

Having the ability to do a thing does not always mean having the capacity to judge whether to do it. That truism comes to mind in reflecting on a recent California divorce dispute. The case involved a disagreement between the husband and wife about what to do with five fertilized embryos they had created during […]

Burke’s ‘armed doctrines,’ ideologues, and Title IX

Central to the conservative critique of revolutionary movements is Edmund Burke’s charge that they promote “armed doctrines,” ideological principles imposed without reference to longstanding practice, current realities or countervailing principles. These are promoted by ideologues who “seek to impose on society and government an unvarying formula that is presented as the answer to every problem […]