Bradley, “Essays on Law, Religion, and Morality”

This month, St. Augustine’s Press will publish Essays on Law, Religion, and Morality by Gerard V. Bradley (University of Notre Dame Law School). The publisher’s description follows.

The most controversial foundational issue today in both legal philosophy and constitutional law is the relationship between objective moral norms and the positive law. Is it possible for the state to be morally “neutral” about such matters as marriage, the family, religion, religious liberty, and – as the Supreme Court once famously phrased it – “the meaning of life”? If such neutrality is possible, is it desirable?

In this volume of essays one of our country’s leading constitutional lawyers answers “no” to both questions. In the first three chapters, Gerard Bradley investigates the central moral justification of punishment, the morality of plea bargaining, and how the criminal justice system should treat the family. These essays reflect both Bradley’s decades as a teacher of criminal law as well as his earlier experience as a trial prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The second triptych of papers has to do with the raging controversy over same-sex “marriage,” and the broader movement toward a socially sanctioned orthodoxy about sexual orientation of which the “marriage” movement is one part. These papers reflect the author’s years of philosophical work on the marriage question, as well as his more practical experience as a popular debater and expert witness.

Finally, Bradley takes up the questions of religious liberty and how our democratic polity should treat religion. These chapters cover the original meaning of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the role of Catholicism in the post-World War II controversies over movie censorship as they played out in the Supreme Court, and emerging challenges to religious liberty in the 21st century.

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