Friday Roundup, May 17th

In his new book, The One Thomas More, humanities professor Travis Curtright seeks to uncover the real More by eschewing the twin temptations of sentimental hagiography and ideological caricature in favor of serious engagement with More’s life and works in all their complexity.  His timing is propitious.  On the one hand, scholarship of the past 60 years has made huge strides, making it possible to speak reliably about the historical More.  On the other hand, outdated ideological and sectarian images of More persist both inside and outside the academy, tending to marginalize More’s influence as political and legal thinker.

This is a great shame, given that the issues so close to More, such as conscience rights, rule of law and the limits of state power, are of pressing concern today—even if the tyranny of our time is not that of a king with caesaro-papist pretensions, but that of an administrative state with increasingly totalitarian ambitions.  The One Thomas More goes a long way to restoring More’s reputation as a man of surpassing personal virtue and a thinker of profound moral and political insight.

  • What if you provided health insurance on a wide scale and it didn’t improve health outcomes? That’s the subject of the next Econ Talk which focuses on the recent Oregon Medicaid study and its interesting conclusions about healthcare policy.
  • The ongoing scholarly reverberations from Hosanna-Tabor: Paul Horwitz discusses on Prawfsblawg his new paper “Freedom of the Church Without Romance.” The paper itself comes from a conference on this main topic recently at the University of San Diego. Here is a link to other contributions to this conference.


Obamacaid Revisited

In the pending Obamacare litigation, the plaintiff-states argue that Title II of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacaid”) unconstitutionally “coerces” them to participate in a grand expansion of Medicaid. I’ve argued here and there that the plaintiffs will and should lose that argument. A terrific amicus brief by Vanderbilt Law School professor James Blumstein makes a powerful case on the other side. Ultimately, Jim’s brief doesn’t fully persuade me. But it comes very, very close on account of its recognition that Obamacaid’s crucial problem has to do with the bilateral risk of opportunistic defection from a pre-existing, quasi-contractual relation (Medicaid), not with some “economic coercion” story about federalism’s “balance” and the poor, pitiful states and their faithful public servants. (For ConLaw dorks: the key cases are Pennhurst and Printz, not South Dakota v. Dole or Steward Machine.) I hope to explain sometime next week; today, a few additional remarks on economic coercion. Read more