A. Trevor Thrall and Erik Goepner for the Cato Institute: In our recent study, published by the Cato Institute and based on an analysis of a wide range of polling data, we find that millennials share a distinct set of foreign policy attitudes, compared with their elders. They view the world as less threatening, are more supportive of international cooperation and diplomacy, and are far more averse to the use of military force.
Surprisingly, despite the fact that 9/11 is the defining event of their generation, the data suggest millennials see the world as a less dangerous place than their elders. Compared with other generations, millennials are less worried about international terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism.
Millennials grew up after the Cold War, without the specter of nuclear holocaust fueled by a decades-long superpower confrontation. Terrorism is dangerous, but it does not fuel the same threat perceptions that the Cold War did for older generations. In addition, many millennials were simply too young for 9/11 to have had the direct emotional impact it did for many older Americans.
More broadly, for millennials, the meaning and impact of 9/11 appears to have become entangled with the U.S. response to it. A majority of millennials, like other generations, view the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as a mistake, but millennials are also three times more likely to believe that Obama's foreign policy is too aggressive and the least likely to believe that using military force is the best way to solve problems.
HALFWAY HOUSES ARE 'HALF-BAKED'
Lauren Sukin for the Century Foundation: Halfway houses are supposed to be the final step between prison and returning to society. Located in communities where inmates will eventually be released to, these houses are intended to provide counseling, job training and other rehabilitative services.
As a criminal justice tool, halfway houses have often been touted for reducing recidivism rates, but that claim is suspect. A Pennsylvania state study showed that, despite the billions of dollars invested in both public and private halfway houses, their recidivism rate is higher than the rate for the corrections system as a whole. The recidivism rate for Community Education Centers, the company that runs 30 percent of all halfway houses nationwide, is as high as 67 percent. After reviewing the findings, John Wetzel, the Pennsylvania corrections secretary, called the houses "an abject failure." …
The reality is that halfway houses are a half-baked solution. Living conditions in these facilities are barely tolerable, with rampant corruption and abuse plaguing residents. When prisoners would rather escape and face further jail time than complete their stints in what are designed to be peaceful, rehabilitative facilities, we ought to take the hint.
WHAT DOES GAY-MARRIAGE DECISION MEAN FOR RELIGION?
David Masci for the Pew Research Center: Virtually everyone agrees that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution offers some protections for religious groups. For example, most (even among gay rights advocates) believe the Constitution protects clergy from being required to officiate at marriages for same-sex couples and churches from being forced to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in their sanctuaries.
But what about a church basement or retreat center, which is rented out for opposite-sex weddings? And what about a religiously affiliated institution, like a university, that offers married heterosexual students housing but refuses such accommodation for married gay and lesbian students?
These questions have real-world implications, since virtually all American religious groups have affiliated nonprofits (such as schools, hospitals and charities). And many, including some evangelical Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church, the Mormon church and Orthodox Jewish groups, oppose gay marriage on religious grounds.
Some scholars believe that the ruling in favor of gay marriage will not lead to widespread acrimony and legal battles. They note, for example, that there is no federal law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. And, of the 22 states that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a majority (13) have at least some protections for religious groups written into their anti-discrimination statutes.
"There's a big difference between something that could be an issue and something that's likely to be an issue," says Robert Tuttle, who teaches religion and law at George Washington University. Tuttle says he believes there may be some lawsuits, but he predicts that in more cases than not, accommodation and compromise are likely to win out.
Compiled by Nathan Rubbelke from think tank research