U.S. Attorney General William “Bill” Barr has been making quite a name for himself over the past couple of months.
Last month, the attorney general, following the lead of Vice President Mike Pence, tore into the erroneous notion that so-called “nationwide injunctions” are an appropriate judicial remedy in our constitutional order. The practice of Article III federal judges issuing so-called “nationwide injunctions,” Barr averred, “flouts constitutional principles and stultifies sound judicial administration, all at the cost of public confidence in our institutions.” In so doing, the attorney general thus took the same position on the constitutional unsoundness of “nationwide injunctions” that Justice Clarence Thomas took in his lone Trump v. Hawaii concurrence from June 2018. Justice Thomas may have gone solo in Trump — it is worth emphasizing that not a single other purportedly conservative justice joined Thomas’s concurrence that doubted the constitutionality of “nationwide injunctions” — but the attorney general of the United States is now on record as wholly agreeing with him.
Earlier this month, the attorney general one-upped himself, delivering a thunderous disquisition at the University of Notre Dame that functioned as a débutante ball for Barr’s grand emergence into the culture war. The speech excoriated the pernicious influence of the militant secularists who seek to chase religion wholly out of the public square. The speech was nothing short of extraordinary. As legendary jurisprudential theorist Hadley Arkes put it, Barr “dr[ew] deeply on some of the best things said and done in the [Western] tradition running back to Athens as well as Jerusalem.” Barr directly channeled President John Adams’ admonition that “[o]ur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious [p]eople” and that it is “wholly inadequate” for anyone else. To be sure, the Left shrieked and howled at Barr’s channeling the very best of our distinctly American political tradition — an all-too easily foreseen reaction that, as Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn wrote, nonetheless “is highly revealing of the absolutism of secularist opponents determined to marginalize and destroy anyone who dares dissent from their own uncompromising orthodoxy.”
To synthesize, the attorney general has spent the last two months both lambasting the preeminent malignant tumor afflicting our constitutional fabric — that of separation of powers-distorting “nationwide injunctions” — and unabashedly siding with oppressed religious Americans in their defensive cultural struggle against revanchist secularists who refuse to countenance religion as anything other than vestigial bigotry wholly unfit for inclusion in polite society. Nothing else in our self-governing republic matters unless and until the scourge of rogue “nationwide injunctions” is curtailed and, ultimately, eliminated. The attorney general has now expressly telegraphed to the other nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court not named Clarence Thomas that he agrees with Clarence Thomas on these injunctions’ lawlessness. The attorney general, furthermore, has signaled his clear sympathizing with the group of Americans today who are most consistently under cultural and legal siege from the ascendant, institutionally supported forces of overt secularism run amok: Religious Americans.
America is better off for having an attorney general, much like Ed Meese during the Reagan administration, who is so willing to expressly put his thumb on the scale of constitutional order, truth, and justice alike. America is better off for having Bill Barr.