Robert George’s Conservative Thinking in the Age of Trump

The Princeton legal scholar on America’s refugee policy, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and his ‘I told you so’ moment with liberal friends over the recent flood of executive orders

 .. Princeton University professor Robert George hasn’t been surprised by the flood of executive orders signed by President Donald Trump in his first month in office. For more than 30 years, the conservative legal scholar and political theorist has worried about what he sees as the dangerous expansion of executive power.
.. The procedures for vetting refugees were “much more rigorous and extensive than I would otherwise have known,” he says. “Most Americans are not aware…of the rigor of the procedures, and most Americans have had their perceptions shaped by the [terrorist] events in Europe.”
.. He doesn’t believe that the U.S. should prohibit the entry of people from particular countries. “We shouldn’t be trying to fight terrorism by closing our doors to the victims of terrorism,” he says. At the same time, he thinks that the U.S. should use its military, diplomatic and economic clout to help create safe places for refugees within the Middle East, closer to their homes.
.. Both he and Mr. Gorsuch embrace the idea of natural law—the view, most fully developed in Catholic thought, that there are clear moral standards governing human behavior and that these can be discovered by the use of reason.
.. Dr. George argues that the American founders had natural law in mind when they created the Constitution, but he doesn’t think that judges should invoke natural-law principles that are not set forth or clearly implied in the Constitution to strike down legislation, especially in ruling on such controversial issues as abortion and gay marriage.
.. He says that Prof. West once said to him, “Brother Robby, you and I have got to be the two most misunderstood brothers in the country.” What he has in common with these colleagues, whatever their political disagreements, is “the idea of intellectual fallibility,” he says. “It’s the idea that I have something to learn from people who disagree with me.”