American Political Thought: Spring 2021 Issue

Washington, D.C., cherry blossoms, Scott Bauer

American Political Thought Journal: Spring 2021 Issue


American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture, has recently published its Spring 2021 issue, which includes pieces by JMC faculty partner Jean Yarbrough and fellow Robert J. Burton.



>> Table of Contents <<


  1. “Backpacking with John Locke: American Wilderness as Liberal Resource,” Timothy J. Lukes
  2. “The Rise of Illiberal Conservatism: Immigration and Nationhood at National Review,” Savannah Eccles Johnston
  3. “‘A Crooked Cross’: Disability and Community in Flannery O’Connor,Lorraine Krall McCrary
  4. Constitutional Humility: The Contested Meaning of a Judicial Virtue,” Zachary K. German and Robert J. Burton

Research Note:

  1. “Languages of Freedom: Danielle Allen on Du Bois and the Declaration of Independence,” Jeremy Fortier

Review Essay:

  1. “Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, and the Future of the Republican Party and Conservatism in America,” Robert C. Smith

Book Reviews:

  1. Home in America: On Loss and Retrieval, by Thomas Dumm,” Shannon Mariotti
  2. “Progressivism: The Strange History of a Radical Idea, by Bradley C.S. Watson,” Bob Pepperman Taylor
  3. “The Conservation Constitution: The Conservation Movement and Constitutional Change, 1870-1930, by Kimberly K. Smith,” Beau Breslin
  4. “The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison, edited by John F. Callahan and Marc C. Conner,” H. William Rice
  5. “Why Associations Matter: The Case for First Amendment Pluralism, by Luke C. Sheahan,” Helen Knowles
  6. Those Who Know Don’t Say: The Nation of Islam, The Black Freedom Movement, and the Carceral State, by Garrett Felber,” Tom Arnold-Forster
  7. “Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out’: Political Horror, edited by Dawn Keetley,” Damien K. Picariello
  8. “The Moderate Imagination: The Political Thought of John Updike and the Decline of New Deal Liberalism, by Yoav Fromer,” Judie Newman
  9. “Thomas Jefferson: A Modern Prometheus, by Wilson Jeremiah Moses,” Jean Yarbrough



“Constitutional Humility: The Contested Meaning of a Judicial Virtue,” Zachary K. German and Robert J. Burton

“References to the ‘humility’ and ‘hubris’ of judges are common in American political and constitutional discourse, but neither public nor scholarly commentators have developed an adequate theoretical framework for what humility means in the context of constitutional jurisprudence. In this article, we first draw out the common themes and tensions among conceptions of judicial humility by providing an extensive review of scholarly treatments of humility as a judicial virtue. Second, we develop a theoretical account of constitutional humility that delineates two interrelated dimensions: ‘epistemological humility,’ an inward-looking, self-referential dimension; and ‘institutional humility,’ an outward-looking, other-directed dimension. We argue that these dimensions work together to provide a complete account of constitutional humility. Finally, we conclude by highlighting how this conception of constitutional humility can improve our judicial practice and public discourse.”

Click here to read the piece >>



Robert J. Burton is the Menard Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy at the University of Wisoncin-Madison. His research and teaching focuses on the First Amendment, religion and law, and theories of conscience in the history of political philosophy. His current book project is titled, A Conscience Safe for Politics: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and the Formation of the Modern Conscience. Burton also conducts research in American political thought and constitutional theory more broadly, including “Tocqueville, Religious Liberty, and the Nexus of Freedom,” and “Aristotle and Madison on the Cause of Faction.” In his teaching, Burton has extensive experience leading simulated learning scenarios, including constitutional conventions, mock trials, and U.N. summits.

Professor Burton is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Robert J. Burton >>



“Thomas Jefferson: A Modern Prometheus, by Wilson Jeremiah Moses,” Jean Yarbrough

Jefferson scholar Jean Yarbrough reviews Wilson Jeremiah Moses’ recent book: “Reviewing Thomas Jefferson: A Modern Prometheus has been a challenge since my own work on Jefferson takes a more favorable view of the political principles of the Declaration, as well as Jefferson’s support for limited government, positions that Wilson Jeremiah Moses excoriates…”

Click here to read the full review >>



Jean Yarbrough is Professor of Government and Gary M. Pendy, Sr. Professor of Social Sciences, with teaching responsibilities in political philosophy and American Political Thought at Bowdoin College. She has twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, first in 1983-84, when she was named a Bicentennial Fellow and again in 2005-2006, under a “We the People” initiative. Dr. Yarbrough is the author of American Virtues: Thomas Jefferson on the Character of a Free People, has edited The Essential Jefferson, and, her most recent book, Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition, won the Richard E. Neustadt Award for 2013 (awarded annually by the American Political Science Association for the best book on the Presidency). She is also the author of numerous articles and essays in American political thought and public policy, as well as other topics in political philosophy.

Professor Yarbrough is a JMC faculty partner.

Learn more about Jean Yarbrough >>



American Political Thought journal coverAmerican Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture is a JMC supported journal that bridges the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research. It is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of American political thought. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation of the American political tradition. Research explores key political concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.

Click here to learn more about American Political Thought >>



Facebook iconTwitter iconFollow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates about lectures, publications, podcasts, and events related to American political thought, United States history, and the Western political tradition!



Want to help the Jack Miller Center transform higher education? Donate today.