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New Look for Modest Commentary

It’s been three years since the blog’s inauguration and it’s time for an update.  As you can see, the blog has undergone a fairly hefty construction project.  The benefits include a more organized site, with the center reading pane devoted to recent posts, the right sidebar containing featured content, and the left displaying categories and archived posts for the historical reader.  Check out the blog’s stats and the search function on the right as well.


Professionalism and Team Basketball

Great article on the development of the San Antonio Spurs organization over the past decade and a half. 

ESPN’s Effect on College Football

ESPN’s Effect on College Football

The New York Times has a fascinating series on the influence of ESPN on the upcoming college football season and how the relationship between the network and the major football conferences has developed over the past two decades. 

ESPN’s strong relationship with the SEC, investment in the Longhorn Network, and ability to help smaller programs become more notorious (aka Boise State) makes the rumors about a new Division 4, or super-conference, even more interesting.  Is it possible that any other future exists for college football?

Two Circuits, One Split…the HHS Mandate Story Continues

A panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently announced its view on the ability of businesses, including for-profit enterprises, to claim the protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment.  Unlike its 10th Circuit en banc counterpart, the Mid-Atlantic court decided in a 2-1 decision that corporations cannot “exercise” religion under the First Amendment or RFRA.  Interestingly, the court gave barely any consideration to the idea that RFRA’s definition of “person” includes inorganic or artificial entities, such as Hobby Lobby, which the 10th Circuit sided with a few weeks ago.  

This issue is most definitely headed for resolution at the Supreme Court; the stakes are too large and the split between circuits and several district courts is glaring.  The en banc decision by the 10th Circuit–labeled novel and unsound by some while lauded by others–made a compelling case for why RFRA’s definitions include corporations.  Because of its statutory analysis, that court did not even entertain the First Amendment claims seriously, instead choosing to classify them as borderline superfluous once RFRA resolved the issue at hand.  In contrast, the 3rd Circuit inverted the discussion; the majority focused on the Free Exercise Clause, with special attention to the meaning of “exercise” (exercising specific elements of religion, that is, rather than religion generally).  

On the surface, and statutory arguments about the meaning of “person” aside, the 3rd Circuit’s opinion appears to fail to consider common sense when discussing the issue of “exercise.”  As Richmond law professor Kevin Walsh mentions, why can’t a corporation–such as one comparable to Chick-fil-A–act in the same vein as the plaintiff in Sherbert v. Verner?  Can’t both choose to act (or refrain from working) on Sunday?  In both cases, isn’t a religious belief motivating the chosen action?  Why does it matter that one is a written policy while the other is an individual motivation?  Notably, this also would mean that for-profit status is irrelevant because choosing not to make money due to a religious belief would put the otherwise for-profit entity on par with a non-profit entity.

The 3rd Circuit’s opinion is troubling for another reason.  The court, instead of engaging the statutory interpretation questions dealt with by the 10th Circuit, opted to incorporate its analysis of the Free Exercise Clause into what should have been a separate discussion of the meaning of terms in RFRA.  This seems backwards, especially when one considers that a) terms can be defined differently by the Constitution and a statute; and b) federal statutes can provide more protection than the Free Exercise Clause, which is a floor for religious freedom rather than a ceiling.  The fact that RFRA was enacted in an attempt to modify the Supreme Court’s holding in Smith-which defined the scope of the Free Exercise Clause-would seem to support this idea.



Francis in Rio

The crowds continue to flock to Pope Francis during his visit in Rio for World Youth Day despite inclement weather.  Francis’ charisma appears to have touched quite a few Brazilians and international pilgrims, not to mention those most in need, who he has visited during his trip.  His message of hope and focus on the Holy Spirit appears to be resonating with the youth that have flocked to his side.  The visit is quenching the spiritual yearning that many have said exists in Latin America.  The crowds continue to astound in number and have essentially drowned out earlier stories in the week that seemed to focus on the controversy surrounding his visit.  His homilies have emphasized the plight of the poor and the need for justice, called for renewed commitment to the spiritual values of the Church’s teaching, and focused on how faith can inform modern life (in the spirit of his most recent encyclical).  Undeniably, the Pope is being treated like a rockstar in Rio.  

New Blog Catholic 7 and Big East

Check it out.

Overview, Inspiration, and Mission


Modest Commentary (‘ModCom’) is an online, multi-author journal that enables the sharing of ideas about American culture.  Its purpose is to enhance discussion about a range of topics–from politics to history to literature to religion–by providing thoughtful commentary from a variety of perspectives.  The views expressed in each article or post are entirely the position of that particular writer and do not reflect the opinions of the creator or the staff as a whole.


 Modest Commentary is the product of plenty of conversations and a lot of independent reading by its writers.  It is a humble attempt to articulate observations about American culture, particularly revolving around events in the last decade.  Its writers bring perspectives from a variety of experiences, ranging from working on Wall Street, participating in religious service, studying the law, and simply being a citizen in every day America.  ModCom seeks to allow writers to perceive, critique, and explain current events through perceptive, and sometimes forgotten, insight.  This allows ModCom to creatively react to the major events, trends, and discussions of today.


The aim of Modest Commentary is to enhance civic dialogue through the exchange of ideas about events shaping the modern-day world.  It seeks to rouse discussion about contemporary topics and news from unique angles.  It also hopes to provoke questions for future consideration and spur in-depth investigation by other writers.  In this sense, its mission is twofold: (1) to encourage the free exchange of ideas, explanations, and observations about all topics; and (2) to allow its authors to highlight pressing cultural questions and needs and call for further inquiry when it would be beneficial.


Welcome to Modest Commentary!  Our site is under construction and will be launching in the coming days!