The podcast returns with a vengeance, as Ben and Joel explore the mysteries of natural law and constitutional interpretation with Hadley P. Arkes, the Edward Ney Professor of Jurisprudence at Amherst College and author most recently of "Constitutional Illusions and Anchoring Truths" (Cambridge University Press). Ben and Joel asked Prof. Arkes to discuss the Supreme Court's decision last week in Snyder v. Phelps, the military funerals case involving the "Rev." Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church congregation. But in order to get to the Phelps case, we needed to establish a few first principles.
Arkes writes about the Phelps case at First Things on Wednesday. His discussion with us is a spirited elaboration on the subject. (And for earlier commentary by Ben and Joel, see here, here and here.) If you know nothing about natural law, this interview is for you. If you think you understand the current scholarship on natural law, you really should listen. And if you're already a fan of Hadley Arkes' writing, this interview will be a treat.
Among the questions we discuss:
• What are some constitutional illusions and what are the anchoring truths from which judges have become unmoored?
• Should the natural law have any bearing on our understanding of the Constitution?
• Is natural law just a secular gloss on a theistic understanding of the world?
• Would the natural law condone homosexual marriage in 50 years?
• What did the Supreme Court get wrong in the Snyder v. Phelps case?
• How should Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire inform our understanding of the Phelps case? (For a different take, listen to Ben and Joel's interview with University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone.)
• Should the law ban offensive language?
• What do Fred Phelps and Mark Steyn have in common? (The answer may surprise you!)
• And much more!
Music heard in this podcast:
• "Natural Science," Rush
• "Freewill," Rush
• "Also Sprach Zarathustra," Shawn Lee
• "The Rev. Fred Phelps is a Horrible Person," HedCas
• "Witch Hunt," Rush
Programming note: We're changing the way we identify the episodes. This episode of "The Ben and Joel Podcast" is Vol. 4, No. 2. You might be wondering, where is Vol. 4, No. 1? We haven't posted it yet.