Unenumerated Duties

42 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2008

See all articles by Robin L. West

Robin L. West

Georgetown University Law Center


The article aims to make problematic the relative absence of questions about the affirmative duties of legislators to pass laws to achieve various welfarist ends in liberal constitutional theory. The duty to legislate for the public good is a bedrock of both classical and modern liberal theory, yet there is almost nothing in liberal constitutional theory about the possible constitutional grounding of the moral duties, whether enumerated or unenumerated, of legislators. The full explanation for this absence rests on a set of jurisprudential assumptions that lead moral questions about governance to be understood solely as adjudicative questions of law. Yet it has become quite clear that governmental officials can on occasion be in profound breach of their non-justiciable duty to provide "protection of the laws." If that matters, then constitutional lawyers and scholars ought not wall themselves off from the ensuing dialogue regarding the nature of that duty and its breach.

Keywords: liberalism, constitution, positive rights

Suggested Citation

West, Robin L., Unenumerated Duties. University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 9, p. 221, 2006, Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1267220, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1267220

Robin L. West (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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