Revisiting the Ideas of the Founding
University of Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper No. 132
30 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2009
Date Written: August 11, 2009
When the ideas of the founding period of the American republic have been studied by legal scholars, they have tended to approach that inquiry from a particular perspective. They have begun by positing a set of ideas as central to the interpretation of the United States Constitution over the course of its history, and have then proceeded to examine the status of those ideas in the founding period against the backdrop of their subsequent development over more than two centuries.
This posture toward the ideas of the framing, I will be arguing, has produced two distorting effects on their recovery. The first effect has been to overstate the significance of some constitutional ideas with which later generations of Americans have been preoccupied; the second has been to understate the special importance attached to other ideas of the founders.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation