The Constitution and Civic Virtue
Constitutional structural constraints on power are necessary for the maintenance of republican government and ordered liberty, but Professor George argues that they are not sufficient. Certain virtues in the people, intellectual and moral, are no less necessary. And yet, the political order, however well-constituted it may be, cannot play more than a minor role in imparting these virtues. The major role must be played by what Edmund Burke called the “little platoons” of civil society—the private associations, beginning with the family. These associations are primary in providing health, education, and welfare, and for transmitting to each new generation the habits of mind and heart that are necessary for people to lead successful lives and be good citizens.
About Robert P. George
Robert P. George holds Princeton’s celebrated McCormick Professorship of Jurisprudence and is Founder and Director of the University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He has served as Chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics. He has also been the U.S. member of UNESCO’s World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology. He was a Judicial Fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Swarthmore, he holds the degrees of JD and MTS from Harvard University and the degrees of DPhil, BCL, DCL, and DLitt from Oxford University, in addition to twenty-two honorary doctorates. He is a recipient of the U.S. Presidential Citizens Medal, the Honorific Medal for the Defense of Human Rights of the Republic of Poland, the Canterbury Medal of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and Princeton University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He is Of Counsel to the law firm of Robinson & McElwee and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.