In this book, Michael Perry addresses several fundamental questions about the proper role of religion in the politics of a liberal democracy, which is a central, recurring issue in the politics of the United States. The controversy about religion in politics comprises both constitutional and moral questions.
In this sequel to his Morality, Politics, and Law, Michael Perry addresses the proper relation of moral convictions to the politics of a morally pluralistic society. While his analysis focuses on religious morality, Perry's argument applies to morality generally. Contending that no justification of a contested political choice can be neutral among competing conceptions of human good, the author develops an ideal of ecumenical politics in which moral convictions about human good can be brought to bear in a productive way (...) in political argument. (shrink)
In this essay I elaborate a particular, and particularly important, morality: the morality of human rights. Next, I ask the ground-of-normativity question about the morality of human rights and go on to elaborate a religious response. Then, after explaining why one might be skeptical that there is a plausible secular response to the ground-of-normativity question, I comment critically on John Finnis's secular response. Finally, I consider what difference it makes if there is no plausible secular response to the ground-of-normativity question.
The proper role of religious faith in the public life of a liberal democracy is one of the most important and controversial issues in the United States today. Since the publication in 1991 of his book Love and Power, Michael J. Perry's important writings on this issue have been among the most insightful. In this new book, Perry argues that political reliance on religious faith violates neither the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution nor, more broadly, the morality of (...) liberal democracy. Nonetheless, Perry argues, religious believers sometimes have good reasons to be wary about relying on religious beliefs in making political decisions. Along the way, Perry thoughtfully addresses three subjects at the center of fierce contemporary political debate: school vouchers, same-sex marriage, and abortion. (shrink)
In this important book, Michael J. Perry examines three of the most disputed constitutional issues of our time: capital punishment, state laws banning abortion, and state policies denying the benefit of law to same-sex unions. The author, a leading constitutional scholar, explains that if a majority of the justices of the Supreme Court believes that a law violates the Constitution, it does not necessarily follow that the Court should rule that the law is unconstitutional. In cases in which it is (...) argued that a law violates the Constitution, the Supreme Court must decide which of two importantly different questions it should address: is the challenged law unconstitutional? Is the lawmakers' judgment that the challenged law is constitutional a reasonable judgment? Perry not only illuminates moral controversies that implicate one or more constitutionally entrenched human rights, but also the fundamental question of the Supreme Court's proper role in adjudicating such controversies. (shrink)
In this important new work in political and constitutional theory, Michael J. Perry elaborates and defends an account of the political morality of liberal democracy: the moral convictions and commitments that in a liberal democracy should govern decisions about what laws to enact and what policies to pursue. The fundamental questions addressed in this book concern the grounding, the content, the implications for one or another moral controversy and the judicial enforcement of the political morality of liberal democracy. The particular (...) issues discussed include whether government may ban pre-viability abortion, whether government may refuse to extend the benefit of law to same-sex couples and what role religion should play in the politics and law of a liberal democracy. (shrink)
The question whether in a liberal democracy religion may serve as a basis of law-making should be desaggregated into two distinct questions. First, is religion a morally legitimate basis of law-making in a liberal democracy? Second, is religion a constitutionally legitimate basis of law-making in the United States? My focus in this article is on the second question, which, as a question about constitutional legitimacy, should not be confused with the first question, which is about moral legitimacy. Like other liberal (...) democracies, the United States is committed to the right to freedom of religious practice. Unlike most other liberal democracies, however, the United States is also committed to the non-etablishment of religion. According to the constitutional law of the United States, law-makers and other government officials may neither prohibit the `free exercise' of religion nor `establish' religion. Does the non-establishment norm ban religion as a basis of law-making? More precisely, should the non-establishment norm be understood to ban laws for which the only discernible rationale — or, at least, the only discernible rationale other than an implausible secular rationale — is religious? (shrink)
`What is the proper relation of moral and religious beliefs to politics and law, especially in a society that, like the United States, is morally and religiously pluralistic?' In Morality, Politics, and Law, noted constitutional theorist Michael Perry answers this fundamental question, criticizing the vision of constitutional adjudication and defending a more liberal philosophy of constitutional interpretation.