President Donald Trump announced four appointees today to the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), a nonpartisan independent agency that focuses on administrative law. One of these appointments, Adrian Vermeule, is on paper a highly qualified nominee. Vermeule is a professor at Harvard Law School and is a noted expert on administrative law. However, Vermeule is a known advocate of a philosophy known as integralism, which is widely considered to be theocratic in nature.
What Is Integralism?
I wrote about integralism previously for our friends at Ordinary Times. In my article, I described the ideology as follows:
[An integralist regime] would be based on pre-liberal concepts. Ideas like God-given rights would be discarded; instead, government policy would be directed from rulers to subjects. If Vermeule is to be believed, attending mass will be mandatory for anyone who has been baptized by any Christian church – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or Coptic. Dissenters will be made to perform menial labor to atone for their sins. Any Jewish-born child who has the misfortune of being baptized will, like Edgardo Mortara, be taken from their parents and raised by the church. Concepts like free speech or religious freedom will vanish.
Adrian Vermeule is a noted and open adherent to this philosophy. Vermeule advocates for the creation of a global “Empire of Our Lady of Guadeloupe”.
Vermeule’s preferred method for the establishment of this empire is ralliement. Under this method, integralists are to be placed into government positions. When the moment is right, these officials will seize power. Presumably, individuals like Vermeule will then have control over government.
The government Vermeule prefers will not be liberal. Vermeule has cited scripture to describe American liberalism – that is, the ideology of the Founding Fathers – as “demonically inspired”. Vermeule has explicitly stated that he supports the government forcing all Americans who have ever been baptized by any church under the authority of the Catholic Church. Notably, the Catholic Church appears to have no interest in this; Pope Francis has called integralism a “plague” and its adherents the “custodians of ashes”.
A History of Extremism
Adrian Vermeule manages a Twitter account, where he is fairly confrontational and open about his beliefs. Vermeule has scrubbed his accounts of all tweets, presumably in preparation for this appointment. However, many of his tweets are publicly available as screenshots. The gallery below contains some of the tweets we uncovered:
Additionally, the account’s likes were not scrubbed. These show a pattern of support for a Catholic state, as well the belief that free-market ideals are anti-Catholic:
Vermeule is extremely hostile to the American form of government in general. This includes promoting the idea that the Electoral College should gather to appoint a lifetime president without holding a popular election. Additionally, Vermeule has attacked many conservative figures. He supported the idea that Neil Gorsuch should not have been nominated because he converted away from Catholicism, and he has attacked “zombie Reaganism” in the GOP. He has also praised the regime of Francisco Franco, the notorious Spanish dictator, and liked a tweet saying proponents of the Enlightenment are “pedophile-adjacent”.
Additionally, in an essay for The Atlantic, Vermeule proposed a new legal ideology that would disregard the Constitution altogether. According to Vermeule:
Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires for the individual and common goods, better habits, and beliefs that better track and promote communal well-being…. The Court’s jurisprudence on free speech, abortion, sexual liberties, and related matters will prove vulnerable under a regime of common-good constitutionalism…. So too should the libertarian assumptions central to free-speech law and free-speech ideology—that government is forbidden to judge the quality and moral worth of public speech, that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric,” and so on—fall under the ax. Libertarian conceptions of property rights and economic rights will also have to go, insofar as they bar the state from enforcing duties of community and solidarity in the use and distribution of resources.
Another Salvo in the Intra-Conservative War
As I wrote at Ordinary Times, conservatism is currently in the midst of internal conflict. This ideological war pits traditional fusionist conservatives against new groups, like integralists, as well as against hardened anti-Trump conservatives.
Adrian Vermeule has become a popular figure among the populist right. Populist figures like Will Chamberlain (editor-in-chief of Human Events) and Will Upton (author at American Mind) have applauded his appointment. His radical reviews may yet face opposition from other parts of the right, however.
This appointment is for one of the 10 three-year council seats, which do not require the advice and consent of the Senate. The Administrative Conference of the United States lacks any direct power to change laws or regulations, but it can submit recommendations to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches for reforms to their administrative law procedures. However, some in Congress might take issue with his controversial viewpoints.