52 Quotes of Noah Feldman

” During the boom years of the 1990s, globalization emerged as the most significant development in our national life. With NAFTA and the Internet and big-box stores selling cheap goods from China, the line between national and international began to blur. “
” Cyber attacks are not what makes the cool war ‘cool.’ As a strategic matter, they do not differ fundamentally from older tools of espionage and sabotage. “
” Empires inevitably fall, and when they do, history judges them for the legacies they leave behind. “
” We often imagine that the court serves as a sort of neutral umpire controlling the warring political branches. But this is mostly myth. The justices of the Supreme Court are themselves actors in the struggle for power, and when they intervene, they think carefully about how their decisions will affect the court’s own legitimacy and authority. “
” In 1953, after the armistice ending the Korean War, South Korea lay in ruins. President Eisenhower was eager to put an end to hostilities that had left his predecessor deeply unpopular, and the war ended in an uneasy stalemate. “
” Cyber war takes place largely in secret, unknown to the general public on both sides. “
” During the New Deal, people thought to be liberal was to reject socialism on one extreme and fascism on the other, and to preserve capitalism through regulation and a social safety net. “
” The yeshiva where I studied considers itself modern Orthodox, not ultra-Orthodox. We followed a rigorous secular curriculum alongside traditional Talmud and Bible study. “
” Like many great world faiths, Mormonism has an important strand of sacred mystery. Mormon temples have traditionally been closed to outsiders and designed with opaque windows. “
” The world is littered with constitutions that have written guarantees of rights but that don’t actually deliver rights. What differentiates the ones where rights are real from where rights are fake is that it’s in the initial interests of the majority to actually deliver these rights. “
” The practical core of democracy, defined functionally, is the peaceful exchange of power between different groups of powerful political players arranged in parties. “
” An empire that extends itself selectively is just being prudent about its own limitations. A republic that supports democratization selectively is another matter. “
” For Mitt Romney, the complex question of anti-Mormon bias boils down to the practical matter of how he can make it go away. Facing a traditional American anti-Catholicism, John F. Kennedy gave a speech during the 1960 presidential campaign declaring his private religion irrelevant to his qualifications for public office. “
” The Chinese public is deeply nationalist, which matters to China’s unelected political leadership as much as U.S. nationalism does to American politicians. As China becomes the world’s largest economy, there is meaningful public pressure for its power status to advance in parallel. Any alternative would be humiliating. “
” The world is full of nations that are part of the community of nations that don’t respect rights. “
” Iraqi national identity under Saddam Hussein never truly incorporated Shiites or Kurds. Sunnis, who identified most closely with the Iraqi nation, remain in some ways disenfranchised relative to the other groups, or at least they perceive themselves that way. “
” Faced with the collapse of Iraq into something like Lebanon – or worse, Somalia – the Bush administration opted for a new counterinsurgency strategy. Violence was reduced because, for the first time since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Iraqis felt that there was a force capable of dominating the situation and ensuring basic order. “
” To hear both critics and defenders talk about the fitness of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, you’d think the most successful Supreme Court justices had been warm, collegial consensus-builders. But history tells a different story. “
” The true test of whether Mr. Obama has improved on the Bush era lies in how his administration justifies its decisions on the 241 remaining Guantanamo detainees, whose cases will now be evaluated internally and reviewed by the courts. “
” Given the pervasive secrecy of the Bush-Cheney administration, and the sorry consequences of that disposition, President Barack Obama’s early emphasis on openness in government seems almost inevitable. “
” The great difficulty with Guantanamo is it was perceived correctly as being a place where people were not being detained subject to rules. I don’t think the world thinks that you can’t detain suspected terrorists – the world thinks you can do that, but you have to do it pursuant to rules and to clear charges. “
” Every generation gets the Constitution that it deserves. As the central preoccupations of an era make their way into the legal system, the Supreme Court eventually weighs in, and nine lawyers in robes become oracles of our national identity. “
” Well-meaning Europeans sometimes argue that unlike the U.S., their countries are traditionally ‘homogeneous’ and have little experience with immigration. “
” The core idea that underlies all of our democratic states, the core political idea, is this idea that it’s not that one person is the sovereign; it’s that all of the people are sovereign. “
” How can you have the religion of the sovereign be the religion of the state if the sovereign belongs to many religions? And it’s at that point, I think, historically, that you start to see people saying maybe the state should not associate itself with any religion. Maybe there shouldn’t be any official religion. “
” I have a 2-year-old son, and I know I’m dealing with a big, grand word when I can’t point to the thing when I define it. Right? If he wants to know what a chair is, I can point to the chair. If he wants to know what religion is, I can’t point to anything in particular. The same is true of the state. “
” A constitutional tradition that works is one that is in a constant state of dynamic evolution. You have a written constitution that says ‘x,’ but no constitutional system works if it just follows what’s in that written constitution and never changes. Interpretation gives it the freedom to change. “
” It is often noted that it can be hard for democracies to fight wars because of changing public opinion. “
” Mormonism was born amid secrecy, and throughout its existence as a religion it has sustained a close yet complex relationship to the arts of silence. “
” In politics, Joseph Smith was something of a radical. He preached, instead of democracy, a version of theocratic rule within a framework given by his own prophetic leadership. At Nauvoo, Smith affected a Napoleonic uniform and made himself into a general and quasi king of the polity he had constituted. “
” The Mormons’ passage from bugbears of the Republican Party to its stalwarts may be analogized to a similar move among middle-class white Southerners, to whom the Republican Party was anathema until the 1970s and ’80s, after which it became almost the sole representative. “
” Our post-denominational age should be the perfect time for a Mormon to become president, or at least the Republican nominee. Mormons share nearly all the conservative commitments so beloved of the evangelicals who wield disproportionate influence in primary elections. “
” From a constitutional standpoint, the religion of a candidate is supposed to make no difference. Even before the founding fathers dreamed up the First Amendment, they inserted a provision in the Constitution expressly prohibiting any religious test for office. “
” What is driving the tendency to discount Joseph Smith’s revelations is not that they seem less reasonable than those of Moses; it is that the book containing them is so new. When it comes to prophecy, antiquity breeds authenticity. Events in the distant past, we tend to think, occurred in sacred, mythic time. “
” It seems strange to the rest of the world, but we Americans can’t seem to stop talking about how other countries should be democratic like we are. “
” To try to be at once a Lithuanian yeshiva and a New England prep school: that was the unspoken motto of the Maimonides School of Brookline, Mass., where I studied for 12 years. “
” Since the birth of modern Orthodox Judaism in 19th-century Germany, a central goal of the movement has been to normalize the observance of traditional Jewish law – to make it possible to follow all 613 biblical commandments assiduously while still participating in the reality of the modern world. “
” Marriage is the most obvious public practice about which information is readily available. When combined with the traditional Jewish concern for continuity and self-preservation – itself only intensified by the memory of the Holocaust – marriage becomes the sine qua non of social membership in the modern Orthodox community. “
” The 1994 elections that brought Newt Gingrich to power in the House decisively shaped the remaining years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, pushing him further to the right and bringing out his latent tendency to govern every day as if an election were being held the next. “
” Even a lame-duck president can be affected by a clear midterm message if he wants to see his vice president elected and preserve his historical legacy. “
” Prisoners, according to the law, who are non-U.S. citizens and are detained outside the U.S. – including in Guantanamo Bay – are denied ‘habeas corpus.’ They are also denied the right to claim the Geneva Conventions confer certain rights on them. “
” When we put our trust in diplomacy, it is not because it is an inspiring or uplifting discourse or because it helps us see the common humanity in others. The stylized circumlocutions of diplomats can make them seem ridiculous or irrelevant: they never seem to be talking about what is really going on. “
” After 9/11, most Americans were in no mood to talk with our enemies in the Middle East, whatever those enemies’ ideology, and the Bush administration’s policies of invasion and pre-emption reflected that sentiment. “
” In an ideological age, diplomacy may seem weak and prosaic. But sometimes it is all we have. “
” The transformation of the United States from a traditional republic to a democratic nation run in large measure by a single executive took a couple of hundred years. “
” The modern presidency, as expressed in the policies of the administration of George W. Bush, provides the strongest piece of evidence that we are governed by a fundamentally different Constitution from that of the framers. “
” The rise of the presidency began with the Louisiana Purchase, which in 1803 doubled the land mass of the United States. History taught the framers that, just as Rome changed from republic to empire with conquest of new lands, territorial acquisition would lead to the centralization of political power. “
” The administration of George W. Bush, emboldened by the Sept. 11 attacks and the backing of a Republican Congress, has sought to further extend presidential power over national security. Most of the expansion has taken place in secret, making Congressional or judicial supervision particularly difficult. “
” William O. Douglas married not one, not two, not three, but four hot blondes. He was not faithful to any of them, not even the last, and each was younger than the previous woman… But after his personal life began to actually fall apart, he developed a set of values about the Constitution that turned out to maximize our autonomy and freedom. “
” Roosevelt got a chance to name an amazing nine justices of the Supreme Court. He was not namby-pamby on this question. He wanted people who shared his views, he wanted liberals, and he wanted lots of them. “
” FDR’s justices were allies while he was alive, but after he died, they developed four totally different theories of what the Constitution is, two of which are considered conservative and two of which are considered liberal. “
” In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the major international question was the relation between Islam and democracy. “