The Usefulness of Constitutional Law

6 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2012 Last revised: 22 Nov 2013

See all articles by Nelson Lund

Nelson Lund

George Mason University School of Law

Date Written: January 31, 2012


This short comment responds to Michael Stokes Paulsen’s “The Uselessness of Constitutional Law.” Paulsen makes the provocative suggestion that Constitutional Law be removed from the required curriculum at every law school in the country, and offered only as a Great Books/Great Cases elective. His goal is to foster a general liberal education that does not contribute to the corrupt, result-oriented culture of legal reasoning fostered by the Supreme Court and the legal professoriate.

This response to Paulsen suggests that if his entirely plausible accusations are valid, his proposed correction is simultaneously too bold and too timid. Too bold because it sacrifices an opportunity to help students become better lawyers. Too timid because it does not propose the kind of genuinely liberal education that would equip students to undertake a serious rethinking and reform of the degenerate culture that he condemns.

Keywords: Akhil Amar, Anti-Federalist, apprenticeship, bar exam preparation, Blackstone, Cicero, civics, classical literature, Federalist Papers, founding era, government, jurisprudence, Magna Carta, Montesquieu, Plato, political science, Rousseau, Socratic Method, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, training

JEL Classification: I21

Suggested Citation

Lund, Nelson Robert, The Usefulness of Constitutional Law (January 31, 2012). Liberty Forum, January 2012; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-10. Available at SSRN:

Nelson Robert Lund (Contact Author)

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8045 (Phone)

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