Richard E. Morgan

Richard Ernest "Dick" Morgan (May 17, 1937 – November 13, 2014) was a conservative author, contributing editor of City Journal, and the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Government at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, United States. His areas of academic interest included the history, law and politics of the First Amendment. At the time of his death, Morgan was one of the leading conservatives of his generation.

Richard E. Morgan
BornMay 17, 1937
Philipsburg, Pennsylvania
DiedNovember 13, 2014 (aged 77)
Harpswell, Maine
OccupationConstitutional theorist, professor of government and legal studies

Legal and political thought

In a speech and debate with Mark Tushnet before the James Madison Memorial Fellowship in July 2000, he outlined what he considered the greatest challenge facing America: judicial supremacy. By examining New Hampshire political culture from the 18th century through the 1990s, he explained what he thought was at stake in debates about the financing of public schools. He argued that the role of the courts in restructuring school funding away from an older "New Hampshire model" was more of a challenge to traditions of republican self-government than most acknowledged.

A strong proponent of a locally funded tax structure for public schools and other measures often characterized as "school privatization", Morgan grounded his arguments in a series of essays for City Journal in the 1990s. First, he argued that the segregationist reaction to Brown v. Board in 1954 (a reaction he disparaged) gave resistance to judicial over-reaching a bad name in general. In an important 1996 essay, "Coming Clean About Brown", Morgan recommended overturning Brown v. Board. Second, he did not accept the idea that the government should take direct action to foster racial integration.

In addition, he, along with his wife Jean Yarbrough, was a strong proponent of the study of the American founders. In his teaching, he sought to nourish a variety of views "hinged" by the Constitution. One of Morgan's most important works, Disabling America: The Rights Industry in Our Time (1984), is in part an extended refutation of Ronald Dworkin's Taking Rights Seriously (1977). Through several essays during the Reagan-Rehnquist period of American political and judicial history, Morgan helped to theorize the intellectual basis of colorblind constitutionalism as an antidote to the kind of argument made by Dworkin.

Critique of affirmative action policies

Dworkin's book, which appeared at about the same time as his important November 1977 essay "Why Bakke Has No Case" in the NYRB, grounded a form of jurisprudence consistent with the affirmative action decision in University of California Regents v. Bakke. Morgan considered Dworkin "one of the most prolific and one of the most audacious theoreticians of rights and liberties writing today." His counter-argument to Dworkin and others on affirmative action was spelled out in an essay, "Negating Affirmative Action".

"Across the country, it's beginning to sink in that programs and practices sold as temporary remedies are on their way to becoming permanent features of the American landscape. This situation is untenable, since the majority of Americans agree that non-discriminating colorblindness is the only truly just principle, even though the elites may disagree."

Response to the 1996 "End of Democracy?" symposium at First Things

Within conservative circles, Morgan is known for his attempt to re-unite different branches of the American conservative coalition after the First Things coalition began falling apart. Father Richard John Neuhaus had claimed that the judicial overreaching of recent decades amounts to a "usurpation of politics" which warranted radical resistance to the American government. Morgan, in his writings during the following decade, tried to mend the fallout between Father Neuhaus and those who had left the board—Gertrude Himmelfarb, Walter Berns, and Peter Berger—by encouraging those on both sides of the divide to focus on the problem of "judicial supremacy".

Morgan was particularly worried about interpretations of this controversy that heightened the divide between Christians and Jews within the conservative fold. In the essay, Morgan wrote,

"we are most effective in opposing judicial activism precisely when we invoke the American constitutional tradition itself— when we speak in the idiom of The Federalist, Jefferson, and Lincoln—not when we stand outside it."

His important essay with Jean Yarbrough, "Why the Founding Is Back in Fashion" (1999), can also be seen as an attempt to mend the intra-conservative divide that emerged in the wake of First Things' "End of Democracy?" symposium. In the essay, Morgan and Yarbrough try to give an account of what those on both sides of the First Things controversy should hold in common—a restoration of the role that virtue and character played in the writings of the American founders. Morgan argued that those trying to carry on a tradition of local, republican self-government should focus on safeguarding the "institutions—ranging from the family, the farm, and the schools all the way up to organized religions... that shape a distinctive American character."

Morgan held an A.B. degree from Bowdoin College (1959) and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University. He joined the Bowdoin faculty in 1969 after one year as a Fellow in Law and Government at Harvard Law School. Morgan served as the chair of Bowdoin's Government Department three times—from 1969-1975, from 1983–85, and from 1992-94.


Authored, co-authored or edited:

  • The Politics of Religious Conflict
  • The Supreme Court and Religion
  • Domestic Intelligence: Monitoring Dissent in America
  • American Politics: Direction of Change, Dynamics of Choice and People, Power and Politics
  • Disabling America: The Rights Industry in Our Time

External links

Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College ( (listen) BOH-din) is a private liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine. At the time Bowdoin was chartered, in 1794, Maine was still a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The college offers 34 majors and 36 minors, as well as several joint engineering programs with Columbia, Caltech, Dartmouth College, and The University of Maine.The college was a founding member of its athletic conference, the New England Small College Athletic Conference, and the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium, an athletic conference and inter-library exchange with Bates and Colby College. Bowdoin has over 30 varsity teams and the school mascot was selected as a polar bear in 1913 to honor Robert Peary, a Bowdoin alumnus who led the first successful expedition to the north pole. Between the years 1821 and 1921, Bowdoin operated a medical school called the Medical School of Maine.The main Bowdoin campus is located near Casco Bay and the Androscoggin River. In addition to its Brunswick campus, Bowdoin also owns a 118-acre coastal studies center on Orr's Island and a 200-acre scientific field station on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy. In 2019, the college was ranked as the fifth-best liberal arts college in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Davis v. Beason

Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333 (1890), was a United States Supreme Court case affirming, by a 9-0 vote, that federal laws against polygamy did not conflict with the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Deaths in November 2014

The following is a list of notable deaths in November 2014.

Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:

Name, age, country of citizenship and reason for notability, established cause of death, reference.

Felix Frankfurter

Felix Frankfurter (November 15, 1882 – February 22, 1965) was an Austrian-American lawyer, professor, and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Frankfurter served on the Supreme Court from 1939 to 1962 and was a noted advocate of judicial restraint in the judgments of the Court.

Frankfurter was born in Vienna, Austria, and immigrated to New York City at the age of 12. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Frankfurter worked for Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. During World War I, Frankfurter served as Judge Advocate General. After the war, he helped found the American Civil Liberties Union and returned to his position as professor at Harvard Law School. He became a friend and adviser of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who appointed him to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Benjamin Cardozo.

Frankfurter served on the Court until his retirement in 1962, and was succeeded by Arthur Goldberg. Frankfurter wrote the Court's majority opinions in cases such as Minersville School District v. Gobitis, Gomillion v. Lightfoot, and Beauharnais v. Illinois. He wrote dissenting opinions in notable cases such as Baker v. Carr, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, Glasser v. United States, and Trop v. Dulles.

First Amendment to the United States Constitution

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws which respect an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights was originally proposed to assuage Anti-Federalist opposition to Constitutional ratification. Initially, the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress, and many of its provisions were interpreted more narrowly than they are today. Beginning with Gitlow v. New York (1925), the Supreme Court applied the First Amendment to states—a process known as incorporation—through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), the Court drew on Thomas Jefferson's correspondence to call for "a wall of separation between church and State", though the precise boundary of this separation remains in dispute. Speech rights were expanded significantly in a series of 20th and 21st-century court decisions which protected various forms of political speech, anonymous speech, campaign financing, pornography, and school speech; these rulings also defined a series of exceptions to First Amendment protections. The Supreme Court overturned English common law precedent to increase the burden of proof for defamation and libel suits, most notably in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964). Commercial speech, however, is less protected by the First Amendment than political speech, and is therefore subject to greater regulation.

The Free Press Clause protects publication of information and opinions, and applies to a wide variety of media. In Near v. Minnesota (1931) and New York Times v. United States (1971), the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected against prior restraint—pre-publication censorship—in almost all cases. The Petition Clause protects the right to petition all branches and agencies of government for action. In addition to the right of assembly guaranteed by this clause, the Court has also ruled that the amendment implicitly protects freedom of association.

List of Bowdoin College people

This list is of notable people associated with Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. This list includes alumni, faculty, and honorary degree recipients.

Pickard China

Pickard China is a porcelain decorating and manufacturing company in Antioch, Illinois, United States. The company was founded in 1893, and continues to produce ceramic tableware and art ware today.

Richard Morgan

Richard Morgan may refer to:

Sir Richard Morgan (Tudor judge) (died 1556), MP for Gloucester, 1545–53; Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, 1553–55

Richard Morgan (MP) (fl. 1593), Member of Parliament (MP) for Montgomery Boroughs

Richard Williams Morgan (c. 1815–1889), Welsh clergyman and author

Richard Morgan (Ceylonese judge) (fl. 1874), Ceylonese Chief Justice

Dick Thompson Morgan (1853–1920), U.S. Representative from Oklahoma

Richard Morgan (actor) (1958–2006), Australian actor

Richie Morgan (born 1946), Welsh footballer and manager

Richard K. Morgan (born 1965), British science fiction author

Richard Morgan (cricketer) (born 1972), New Zealand cricketer

Richard E. Morgan (1937–2014), American conservative author of non-fiction

Richard T. Morgan (1952–2018), American politician from North Carolina

Richard Morgan, winning driver of the Formula Ford Festival auto race in 1974

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