F.H. Buckley

F.H. Buckley is a Foundation Professor at George Mason School of Law and the author of “The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America” (Encounter Books, April 8, 2014).

The Skeptical Constitution

I’m terribly sorry. I seem to have come in late. I missed the part where the classical liberal gets to write the constitution. I know that a good many classical liberals, including my friend Richard, have offered their thoughts on the subject, but that’s not how I understand constitutions to be made. Sir Lewis Namier thought that “no great historic problem has ever been settled by means of a brilliant idea.” Perhaps the Framers’ constitution is the exception here, but I rather prefer constitutions made over cases of champagne to the background music of a Strauss waltz and the rustle of…

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Constitutional Compromise and Classical Liberalism

Across the conservative legal movement, there is a reassessment of the principles that have guided legal conservatives since the end of the Warren Court. Ideas that were once orthodoxy are now open to question. At the level of doctrine, the movement’s longstanding defense of Chevron has been replaced with the deep unease evinced by the…

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Due Deference to the Political Branches

Recently, I heard an observation about liberals and conservatives that rang true to me: Modern liberals tend to view themselves as freethinkers no matter how rigidly they adhere to liberal orthodoxy. Modern conservatives often display the opposite vice, imagining they speak for the average citizen even when election returns contradict that belief. One consequence is that…

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Richard Epstein Responds: Personal Liberty, Private Property and Limited Government Are Still the Keys to National Prosperity and Success

I should like to thank my three commentators for their observations on my lead essay. Those remarks by Gail Heriot (my former student, I am proud to say) and Joel Alicea are decidedly in the friendly camp, and thus need little response. The comment by my friend Frank Buckley shows a good deal of Canadian…

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American Exceptionalism: Response

 We are all patriots first, philosophers second. And that is just as it should be. Still, the patriotic American must admit that his country’s constitution was not made for export, and that parliamentary countries enjoy more political freedom. That’s not to say that America is anything other than free. Still, as he surveys the shipwreck of presidential regimes in other countries, the American patriot should ask himself why America is exceptional in this respect, and whether it will continue to remain so. It’s not as though the recent concentration of power in the Executive Branch in the Age of Obama has…

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Does America Need a New ‘Science of Politics’?

Professor Buckley argues in “American Exceptionalism” that presidents cause countries with the office to realize less freedom on average than countries with prime ministers. Below I explain why neither Buckley’s theoretical claims nor the empirical evidence he provides persuades me that his conclusion is warranted. Before digging into his argument, however, I do want to appreciate…

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The Exceptional American Presidency

Rare is it to find an academic who tries to do justice to his university’s namesake. Imagine what Rockefeller, Carnegie, Stanford, and Vanderbilt, not to mention good old Harvard and Yale, would think about what goes on under their names.  But law professor Frank Buckley, at least, attempts to carry forth the torch of George…

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A New Critique of American Exceptionalism

General George Washington resigning his commission, 1783

Most Americans subscribe to the idea of “American Exceptionalism.”  When polled, 80 percent of respondents report that, because of its history and Constitution, America “has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world” (York 2010). For this, one’s thanks go to the Framers, who gave the country a presidential system, with its separation of powers, that secured the blessings of liberty for Americans. This essay, which will subsequently be published by Encounter Books as part of a book entitled The Once and Future King, will show that while this is a comforting story, it lacks what in…

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Responses

Does America Need a New ‘Science of Politics’?

Professor Buckley argues in “American Exceptionalism” that presidents cause countries with the office to realize less freedom on average than countries with prime ministers. Below I explain why neither Buckley’s theoretical claims nor the empirical evidence he provides persuades me that his conclusion is warranted. Before digging into his argument, however, I do want to appreciate…

Read More

The Exceptional American Presidency

Rare is it to find an academic who tries to do justice to his university’s namesake. Imagine what Rockefeller, Carnegie, Stanford, and Vanderbilt, not to mention good old Harvard and Yale, would think about what goes on under their names.  But law professor Frank Buckley, at least, attempts to carry forth the torch of George…

Read More

American Exceptionalism: Response

 We are all patriots first, philosophers second. And that is just as it should be. Still, the patriotic American must admit that his country’s constitution was not made for export, and that parliamentary countries enjoy more political freedom. That’s not to say that America is anything other than free. Still, as he surveys the shipwreck…

Read More