"The hyper-politicization of society as a whole has bled into the judiciary. ... But what if we’re seeing it all wrong? What if we’re seeking a touchdown on a baseball diamond? Rather than demand a football game from a baseball team at the ballpark, perhaps we need to see how judges see themselves."

"Justice Gorsuch perhaps put it best, 'A judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels.' Our politicization of the judicial process both taints our understanding and threatens the independent judiciary so crucial to American democracy."


What is the purpose of the judiciary?  How do judges see themselves?  How can we better understand the nuance of the judiciary and judicial decisions?  What is at risk when we allow the judiciary to become politicized?
 

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"Touchdowns in the Ballpark: Reversing the Politicization of the Judiciary"

by Samuel Chen, Principal Director, The Liddel...

September 14, 2017

"Driving this seeming need for equivocation is the replacement of right and wrong with notions of right and left. Moral responsibility has given way to political expediency, as we carefully tailor our comments and select our outrage — not to condemn a wrong, but to make a point. Lost in this increasing politicization, and subsequent polarization, is the reality that neither truth nor virtue is subject to the whims of politics."

"It is incumbent on us to shed the polarization and to see right and wrong instead of right and left. After all, truth is not partisan and moral responsibility knows no party lines."


Why do we find a need to equivocate when condemning something wrong?  Have we become directed by a political compass instead of a moral compass?  What damage is done by viewing things in terms of right and left instead of right and wrong?

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"Polarized Lenses: 9/11, Charlottesville, and How Right & Wrong Replaced Right & Left"
by Samuel Chen, Principal...

"It was the government — the Roman Empire, no less — who tried to free Jesus and it was the faith leaders who demanded his death. It was church, not state, that declared their only king and leader to be Caesar."

"Insurrections — political or otherwise — are about power; the Resurrection is about life, its inward character and its subsequent outward expression. Only the latter yields true influence."

"We must learn to live before we can lead. Only then, will our discourse have resolve. Otherwise, we lead and govern with power instead of influence, as we too often do today."


Why do we look to political leaders to solve the world's problems?  Are political movements sufficient to resolving the world's problems?  What is the difference between power and influence?  How do our lives different from today's political rhetoric?

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"Life, Politics, and the Resurrection"

by Samuel Chen, Principal Director, The Liddell Group

April 16, 2017  l  Medium
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"Tolerance and inclusion are the watchwords and standard-bearers of academia’s modern crusade, however recent student protests prove these ideals ring hollow when applied to free speech and intellectual diversity."

"It is crucial that our university communities are able to distinguish between tolerating differing opinions, i.e. allowing them all to be heard, and validating opinions, i.e. agreeing (or not) with the merit of the speaker’s argument. Merely providing someone with a forum to present his or her views does not confirm them as true. We are only able to make objective determinations of value after ideas have been freely exchanged."


What is tolerance and inclusion? If we only practice these virtues toward those with whom we agree, is it still tolerance or inclusion?

How should be respond to those individuals and ideas with which we disagree? Do protests realize that goal? If these conversations on differing ideas cannot be had at universities, then what is the purpose of high...

December 30, 2016

"While I was proud that he held that standard and that so many admired him for it, I was also appalled that our standard for president had fallen so far that mere decency was now the determining factor. We were unable to have any conversation on the crucial issues that face our country because we were too busy arguing over decency—and that was only when we weren’t arguing over hand sizes and Bernie Sanders’ religion."

"DeRuyter’s comments don’t apply merely to college, but to life. Life that both Pat Summitt and Sam Foltz modeled for us by embracing it to the fullest. It is no coincidence that the legacy both leave will be found not in a stat line or trophy case, but in the lives both near and far that they touched."


What values of decency were lost throughout the 2016 elections?  What is the cost of the "win at all costs" mentality?  Is such a cost worth the "win"?  How will you choose to live in 2017?

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"How Sports Saved 2016"

by Samuel Chen, Pr...

December 19, 2016

"This year, narrowly denying Trump a majority in the Electoral College would still probably result in Trump’s election via the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, producing the same president but with a Constitutional crisis along the way. And in the long run, encouraging electors to deviate from the outcomes in their states would result in the House more often deciding presidential elections, which is probably not in Democrats’ interests given how their voters are clustered — and gerrymandered — into urban congressional districts."

"Winning a House seat in Montana or expanded access to early voting in North Carolina might not be as sexy for Democrats as dreaming about an uprising in the Electoral College. But Trump won the election, and Democrats probably ought to be thinking about how to win some elections of their own."


What is at risk if electors go faithless and deny Donald Trump 270 electoral votes? What are more effective ways for Democrats moving fo...

December 5, 2016

"GOPers shouldn’t ‘normalize' the alt-right, and neither should the media imbue the movement with an outsized importance to feed its preferred narrative regarding the election…this obsessive coverage of the alt-right not only helps mainstream a small movement, it’s exactly what the bigots need and want to grow."

What role, if any, is the media playing in legitimizing the alt-right movement through their coverage of it? Does the focus on a small group of extreme racists weaken true critiques of the Trump administration?

What is the media’s responsibility to its viewers in terms of displaying coverage of all issues without giving preference to the most sensational stories? Should the media cover fringe movements and bring them into the spotlight of the national stage? After witnessing the immense power of the media in driving the 2016 election, should a new role be envisioned for them in the future?

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“Dear Media: Please Stop Normalizing the Alt-Right"

by David Harsany...

September 20, 2016

“The speech restrictions are overtly viewpoint-based. If you express pro-equality viewpoints, you’re fine; if you express the contrary viewpoints, you’re risking disciplinary action. This also goes beyond existing hostile-work-environment harassment law under Title VII and similar state statutes. The law itself has potential First Amendment problems…."

Background
The American Bar Association recently revised its Model Rules of Professional Conduct to note that discrimination and harassment "includes harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice towards others." Applying more broadly than the workplace, the ABA explicitly states that this policy applies to any "social activities in  connection with the practice of law."

Explore
To what extent--if any--should speech be barred, especially for a profession so dependent on free speech?  Should lawyers be able debate on issues such as immigration or same-sex marriage?  How about outside of the courtroom or during...

September 11, 2016

"They found him six months later, in the lobby of the south tower. He’d made it all the way down. He was found in an area with many firefighters’ remains. It had been the FDNY command post. It was where assistant fire chief Donald Burns was found. He and his men had probably helped evacuate thousands. Welles could have left and saved his own life—they all could have. But they’d all stayed.” 

Often it is easy to think individual actions do not matter or get lost in the grand scheme of things. One man’s actions in a burning building fifteen years ago will never be forgotten, however. While others were fleeing down the stairs to escape the horrific collapse of the building, 24 year old Welles Crowther, also known as the man in the red bandanna, was running back up them. 

As we honor the fallen victims of September 11 on today's fifteenth anniversary of the attack, we remember those like Welles who embody what it truly means to be a hero.


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“Rememberin...

August 29, 2016

“Affluence detaches, power adds distance to experience. I don’t have it fully right in my mind but something big is happening here with this division between the leaders and the led. It is very much a feature of our age. It is odd that our elites have abandoned or are abandoning the idea that they belong to a country, that they have ties that bring responsibilities, that they should feel loyalty to their people or, at the very least, a grounded respect.”
 

Does there exist a disconnect between elite lifestyle, action, and political discourse and the reality of the massess?  Peggy Noonan explores this question, and more, in a fascinating piece, pointing to the notion that there may be a growing lack of interest in the lives of "those who are not at the table" and an increase of political decisions that further marginalize those who have no voice.

 

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“How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen"

by Peggy Nonnan, Columnist, Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal  l  Augu...

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Much like the absence of J Street in Washington, DC, we provide what is too often lacking from today's politics--substantive research and thoughtful discourse.

 

J Street Musings is a collection of essays and articles on a variety of issues and genres.  Authored by our team and by scholars and thinkers across the world, each post highlights a few key quotes and fundamental questions to direct our minds toward a thoughtful engagement of the article.

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