Robert F. Nagel Articles

Predicting Justice Kennedy

The status of same-sex marriage shouldn’t come down to one man’s opinion.
Jun 15, 2015

Later this summer the Supreme Court will decide whether the Constitution requires that every state recognize same-sex marriages. Thus, in a ritual that would seem bizarre if it had not become so ordinary, nine lawyers will issue a decision authoritatively resolving subtle and far-reaching issues that are not distinctively legal. After all, the ancient institution of marriage implicates difficult questions about history, culture, psychology, and morality.

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America Behind Bars

Does the punishment fit the crimes?
Apr 21, 2014

How should we react to the fact that the average length of a prison sentence in the United States has nearly doubled in the last 30 years? That 140,000 inmates are serving life sentences, and more than 100,000 are in prolonged solitary confinement? That California alone incarcerates more inmates than France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the Netherlands combined?

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Unreliable Ally

Advocates of small government shouldn’t look to the Supreme Court for help.
Jul 16, 2012

As is abundantly demonstrated by the commentary on the June 28 decision upholding Obamacare, the drama of constitutional decision-making by the Supreme Court is irresistible. Such a significant issue decided, in effect, by one man! And that man, Chief Justice John Roberts—is he a lawless sellout to political pressure or a brilliant legal statesman? Is the fundamental constitutional principle of limited national powers gone forever? Or has Roberts laid down a subtle doctrinal roadmap that will eventually allow the Court to save our republic?

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