E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post on the Catholic compromise Last week, President Obama reached a compromise with critics of his plan to require some Catholic institutions to include contraception in their health care coverage. "He should have done this at the outset, but far better late than never," writes Dionne. He says liberal Catholics' initial alliance with conservatives over the original plan surprised some, but was rooted in their respect for the Church's charitable works, which seemed to be under attack. "Gospel-inspired work was defined as non-religious," he writes. The continued resistance of some conservative Catholics is misguided and reflects their prioritizing of culture wars above their social Gospel mission. "Liberal Catholics were proud to stand with conservatives ... Now, we'd ask conservatives to consider that what makes the Gospel so compelling ... is the central role it assigns to our responsibilities to act on behalf of the needy, the left-out and the abandoned."
Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View on our Constitution's soft power When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told Egyptians to look to the more modern South African Constitution as a model this year instead of the American one, she came under political fire. "The implicit fear, made manifest by a posse of commentators, is that our constitutional 'soft power' is in decline -- much as our hard power is perceived to be faltering," writes Feldman. But he says we should look to whether countries copy our entire Constitutional system, not just the text of our Constitutional document. In that game, we're still the leaders, as most countries continue to borrow, among other things, the idea of judicial review, not written in the Constitution, but asserted in an early court ruling. Feldman says the real worry here taps into a debate about originalism vs. a living document. "This is why Ginsburg was telling the Egyptians to borrow from modern constitutions -- because they spell out the answers to contemporary problems."