Five Best Tuesday Columns

Michael Gerson on religion in 2012, Michael Kinsley on health care and the Supreme Court, Ann Curry on hiring veterans, Charles Lane on ideological purity, and Tony Haymet on deep sea exploration.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Michael Gerson in The Washington Post on religion in 2012 In an odd election where evangelicals are voting for a Catholic candidate and Catholics are voting for a former Mormon bishop, polls show Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with the amount of religious expression coming from political leaders. "Though I haven’t noticed much aggressive public praying during this political cycle, Republican expressions of faith have been frequent and frequently crude," Gerson writes. Evangelical candidates, he says, have abandoned the broader tradition of social justice for smaller issues like school prayer. But voters in both parties don't want to eliminate religion from public debate. Black Democrats, in particular, ensure that their party must keep it around. Americans "don’t like sectarianism. But they also reject secularism. There is, fortunately, a distinctly American alternative: religious pluralism, humanized by tolerance."

Michael Kinsley in Bloomberg View on health care and the Constitution The Supreme Court only occasionally ignores the principle of stare decisis, which demands that they don't reverse precedents where they've previously ruled. Brown v. Board and Bowers v. Hardwick were famous exceptions where they did reverse precedent. "It is generally considered that in both of these cases, the court got it right the second time. If the court ultimately rules that President Barack Obama's health-care reform law is unconstitutional ... there will be no comforting consensus that the court has finally got it right," writes Kinsley. He argues that invalidating the individual mandate by narrowing the Constitution's commerce clause would call into question a huge range of federal activities previously justified by it, including the Civil Rights Act. Kinsley says that most opponents of the law never argued it was unconstitutional before it passed, a sign for him that conservatives came to the argument simply to oppose the law. "There's no stare decisis at the Heritage Foundation, apparently," he says.

Ann Curry in The Wall Street Journal on hiring veterans In his State of the Union, President Obama urged corporate America to follow the example of our armed forces who, he said, constantly put their mission ahead of personal ambition. "Whether today's military men and women—the best-trained and most experienced military force in the history of our nation—can similarly drive our economy largely depends on whether we remember our history," Curry writes. She writes how veterans successfully drove the post-war economy under the G.I. bill. She describes the skills and values they learn in the service that could apply to business environments, and notes that many corporations are already looking to hire them. "The sooner more American businesses realize the value of this sudden wealth of returning military veterans, the sooner we can stop worrying about our economy."

Charles Lane in The Washington Post on ideological purity More politically extreme candidates like Rick Santorum often argue that their party can only win elections by presenting Americans with a stark choice between ideologies. Those who insist on ideological purity should learn from "the dramatic 2003 victory for gay rights at the Supreme Court, in which the justices struck down a Texas ban on homosexual ­sodomy," writes Lane. The ruling was a huge defeat for social conservatives because it built on arguments previously used to justify legal abortions, and it presented arguments the court might use to legalize gay marriage. Lane describes the case, saying conservatives could have allowed the lower courts to throw out the little-used law against sodomy on narrow grounds. But ideological purists pushed it to the Supreme Court, where they only achieved a broader defeat that set them up to lose other legal battles. Those who push ideological purity should see it as a lesson against overreach, Lane says.

Tony Haymet in The New York Times on deep sea exploration Director James Cameron descended to the deepest known recess at the bottom of the ocean this week. "We should honor this accomplishment and encourage continued exploration through a global effort by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to preserve the deep seas," writes Haymet. He notes previous discoveries we've made in the deep sea, and describes is at as a largely unknown world. Discoveries there could, for instance, lead to new pharmaceutical breakthroughs. "Yes, exploration of the deep ocean will be just like the exploration of Mars — with one huge exception. We already know we are going to find life in the deep ocean, and lots of it," he writes.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.