American Political Thought: Spring 2022 Issue

Independence Hall with tulips

American Political Thought Journal: Spring 2022 Issue


American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture, has recently published its Spring 2022 issue, which includes pieces by JMC faculty partners Kevin Burns and Greg Weiner and fellows Sean Beienburg and Daniel Klinghard.



>> Table of Contents <<


  1. “James Otis and the Glorious Revolution in America,” Matthew Reising
  2. “Robert Penn Warren and His Persistent Schism between Fact and Idea,” Douglas Scott Van
  3. Republican Manners, Monarchic Vigor: The Federalist Defense of Pardon Power,Kevin J. Burns
  4. “David Foster Wallace and the Audience of Democratic Authority,” Joel Winkleman

Research Note:

  1. “Teaching Federalism: State Sovereignty Declarations in State Constitutions,” Sean Beienburg

Review Essays:

  1. “Lincoln and the Moral Dimension of Compromise,” Greg Weiner
  2. “The Republic of Science, The Constitution of Knowledge, and the Besieged University,” Daniel Klinghard

Book Reviews:

  1. Remainders of the American Century: Post-apocalyptic Novels in the Age of US Decline, by Brent Ryan Bellamy,”Claire P. Curtis
  2. The Politics of War Powers: The Theory and History of Presidential Unilateralism, by Sarah Burns,” Dave Bridge
  3. Justice Rising: Robert Kennedy’s America in Black and White, by Patricia Sullivan,” Robert C. Smith
  4. The Great Dissenter: The Story of John Marshall Harlan, America’s Judicial Hero, by Peter S. Cannellos,” Stuart Streichler
  5. William Howard Taft’s Constitutional Progressivism, by Kevin J. Burns,” Bob Pepperman Taylor
  6. Disrupting Dignity: Rethinking Power and Progress in LGBTQ Lives, by Stephen M. Engel and Timothy S. Lyle,” Matthew Dean Hindman



“Republican Powers, Monarchic Vigor: The Federalist Defense of Pardon Power,” Kevin J. Burns

“The US Constitution grants the president a virtually unlimited pardon power. The Ratification Debates demonstrate that disputes between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over the pardon power were based on their disagreement about separation of powers theory. Because Anti-Federalists feared that pardon power could be abused and promote monarchy, they insisted on textual restrictions (‘parchment barriers’). The Federalists rejected these demands, moving beyond the Anti-Federalists’ ‘pure’ theory of separation of powers and advocating a complex system of institutional checks and balances. This approach allowed the Federalists to show how the executive’s institutional structure not only improved the president’s use of pardon power but also helped prevent abuses. The president’s pardon power is as unlimited as the British king’s, but the Federalists insisted that it could nevertheless be safely granted to a republican magistrate because Congress could check misuse via an equally extensive power: impeachment and removal.”

Click here to read the full piece >>



Kevin BurnsKevin J. Burns is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Economics at Christendom College. His teaching and research interests include American Constitutionalism (especially separation of powers), American Political Thought (particularly the American Founding and the Progressive Era), the presidency, the judiciary, and Ancient and Early Modern political theory. He is currently working on a number of smaller projects, including essays on The Federalist’s understanding of the United States as a commercial republic, the place of the president’s pardon power in the constitutional scheme, and the constitutional problems with the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

Professor Burns is a JMC faculty partner.

Learn more about Kevin Burns >>



“Teaching Federalism: State Sovereignty Declarations in State Constitutions,” Sean Beienburg

“State constitutions serve not merely as institutional design for and restrictions on state government; they also declare and teach fundamental principles. One such principle, America’s existence as a federalist system, appears in almost one in four state constitutions today in the form of what one could describe as a proto–Tenth Amendment, declaring it to be the right of the state to regulate its internal affairs either exclusively or unless delegated. After consulting every state constitution in history, this research note assembles a comprehensive database of the language and presence of these provisions, including histories of the two states’ decisions to weaken such language. This note will briefly argue that such provisions are not simply a vestigial artifact of a preconstitutional age, or, alternatively, of an anticonstitutional protest against Reconstruction, but occur throughout the duration of American political development and appear in the North and South, progressive and conservative states.”

Click here to read the full piece >>



Sean BeienburgSean Beienburg is an Assistant Professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University. He is also the project director of the Arizona Constitution Project. Professor Beienburg’s teaching and research interests include the Constitution and constitutional law, American political development and American political thought, federalism and state constitutionalism/politics, executive power (both presidential and gubernatorial), parties and interest groups, 19th and early 20th century political and constitutional history, and Prohibition. In addition to Prohibition, the Constitution, and States’ Rights, he is soon to be the author of another book on states as constitutional interpreters and progressive federalists in the progressive and New Deal eras.

Professor Beienburg is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Sean Beienburg >>



“Lincoln and the Moral Dimension of Compromise,” Greg Weiner

“Noah Feldman’s new book on Abraham Lincoln’s constitutionalism accomplishes the considerable feat of saying something new about its subject. Feldman argues that Lincoln presided over constitutional fracture, the result of which was a salutary shift from the ‘compromise Constitution,’ which made its peace with enslavement for the sake of union, to the ‘moral Constitution,’ which is rooted in a substantial moral aspiration. Yet compromise is more than a means of resolving disputes. Rooted in humility, compromise is itself a moral ideal. During times of ordinary politics, the compromise and moral Constitutions often converge. It is unclear whether Feldman’s Lincoln, a theorist of constitutional crisis, can guide us in situations less extreme than civil war.”

Click here to read the full piece >>



Gregory WeinerGregory Weiner is Interim President and Associate Professor of Political Science at Assumption College. His research and teaching interests include the political theory of the Constitution, the political thought of James Madison, civil liberties, and the role of the Supreme Court. In addition to The Political Constitution, he is the author of Old Whigs: Burke, Lincoln, & the Politics of Prudence (2019), American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan (2015), and Madison’s Metronome: The Constitution, Majority Rule and the Tempo of American Politics (2012). Professor Weiner’s research and teaching are informed by the several years he spent as a high-level aide and consultant in national politics, including his service as Communications and Policy Director to U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey, D-Nebraska, and as founder of the Washington, D.C.-based speechwriting firm Content Communications, LLC.

Professor Weiner is a JMC faculty partner.

Learn more about Gregory Weiner >>



“The Republic of Science, the Constitution of Knowledge, and the Besieged University,” Daniel Klinghard

“In a new book, Jonathan Rauch argues for a spirited defense of the ‘Constitution of Knowledge.’ His comparison of the US Constitution to a national intellectual community resembles Michael Polanyi’s metaphor of a ‘republic of science.’ But the surprising thing about Polanyi’s evocation of a republic was precisely its embrace of science’s irrationalities, not an assertion that republics and scientific communities were alike in the pursuit of truth. First amendment scholar Donald Alexander Downs’s new book offers a vision of intellectual community that more effectively reconciles the irrational to the pursuit of truth, and as such perhaps a more workable framework for accommodating the extremes of our age.”

Click here to read the full piece >>



Daniel Klinghard is a Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Charles Carroll Program at the College of the Holy Cross. His areas of teaching include political parties and interest groups, race and ethnic politics, and American political development. His book, The Nationalization of American Political Parties, 1880-1896, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. He is presently engaged in research projects that explore, respectively, changes in American trade policy in the late nineteenth century, the role of technology in shaping party development, and Thomas Jefferson’s book, Notes on the State of Virginia. He has taught at the College of Charleston, Clark University, and Brandeis University.

Professor Klinghard is a JMC fellow.

Learn more about Daniel Klinghard >>



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 >>



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