Throughout the Trump administration, media coverage of extremist factions of the American right grew considerably, as did the actual membership and numbers of those factions. Included among these factions, and operating on a spectrum that ranges from the center-to-fringe right, are white supremacist, Christian nationalist, and militia/patriot/sovereign citizen (broadly termed constitutionalist) movements. While the American right is heterogeneous, most of these groups are composed of white men, and male supremacism is often a common ideological denominator. Based on historical trends, recent activity, and ongoing movement mobilizations, we should anticipate increased recruitment and activism on the part of anti-statist right-wing groups during the Biden administration. While much has been written about the threat of terroristic violence these groups pose and their varying levels of engagement with white supremacist beliefs, examinations of gender have largely focused on masculinity. This note takes up the relationship between anti-statist right-wing movements and women by sketching three key areas that warrant further examination: (1) how collective interpretations of the law leave women vulnerable by refusing the legitimacy of federal legislation; (2) the threat of militia violence against women, particularly those who hold elected office; (3) how racial and gender exclusions preclude women from having their claims to membership in anti-statist right-wing movements be fully recognized. As we take stock of the growing threat posed by these movements, it is incumbent on us to critically examine the threats to women’s rights posed by the anti-statist right.
“Paul Weyrich: 1968 and the Roots of a (Catholic) Radical,” American Catholic Studies (Fall 2020).
This article challenges traditional understandings of the New Right by centering the profound influence Catholicism had on the formation of Weyrich’s political beliefs and development as a political entrepreneur. The article focuses on the early formation of Weyrich’s religious identity before addressing how the transformation of the Catholic Church in the 1960s shaped and informed his conservative worldview, making it possible for him to identify as a “conservative Catholic.” His religious beliefs are examined with an eye to his development of the “pro-family” political platform – later adopted by the Christian Right and the Republican Party – and the production of a conservative ideology that would carve out space for a new kind of state, one which would be dramatically limited in terms of social welfare provision and vastly expanded in terms of social regulation.
“The Great American Rights Bake Off: Freedom of Religion v. Freedom from Discrimination,” co-authored with J. Ricky Price, New Political Science (Nov. 2019).
Building on my interest in how religious freedom claims impact public policy, this article argues that progressive actors are losing the battle to protect LGBT and reproductive rights from conservative claims of a right to religious discrimination. The recent Supreme Court Masterpiece Cake v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission decision highlights the “competing rights” conflict between religious actors’ First Amendment rights and women’s and LGBT rights to equal protection and public accommodation. This paper contextualizes the religious freedom claims advanced by the Masterpiece Cake case within a longer political and legal history. It utilizes a discursive institutionalist frame to assess the strategies, tactics, and rhetoric of conservative political actors who advance a “competing rights” agenda and LGB activists who focus on narrative change and marriage equality. It concludes by suggesting that the limited strategy adopted by marriage equality activists cannot effectively withstand the legal challenge mounted by those claiming “competing rights.” We, therefore, propose a new approach for resistance that adopts a rhetorical strategy premised on a strict interpretation of church/state separation and a legislative- and policy-oriented strategy that aims to preserve and expand public accommodation law.