Published Humanitas, Volume XXXII, Nos. 1 & 2, 2019

Traditionalist conservatives have often expressed hostility to the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence, perceiving it as an attempt to accomplish social change undertaken by the court’s current justices while disregarding the original meaning of the Bill of Rights. According to this account, rather than recognizing the provisions of the First Amendment to be part of a larger constitutional project that upholds social order and traditional institutions, the court interprets First Amendment clauses so as to undermine the basic structural logic of the Constitution itself. An advocate of this position is the figure many consider to be the godfather of American intellectual conservatism, Russell Kirk.

Kirk made a substantial contribution to a variety of scholarly and literary fields including political theory, history, fiction (especially Gothic horror), educational policy, and social commentary. An elaboration of conservative sentiment and thought provided unity to Kirk’s disparate interests and direction to his prolific writing and thinking. In the area of constitutional history and theory, for example, Kirk declared that the American Constitution “has been the most successful conservative device in the history of the world.” But, though viewing the Constitution as a distinctly conservative achievement in general, Kirk took sharp issue…

This is a preview. Read the full article here.