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The Declaration of Independence and Contemporary Constitutional Pedagogy

32 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2016  

Mark Graber

University of Maryland - Francis King Carey School of Law

Date Written: April 21, 2016

Abstract

This Article seeks to revive pedagogical attention to the Declaration as central to the basic constitutional law class and to legal education. The Declaration too often suffers from concerns with teaching to the bar examination and the tendency for constitutional law courses to focus on constitutional practice in courts. Both pedagogical practices are unfortunate. Practicing lawyers must interpret canonical legal texts as well as engage in straightforward application of black letter law. They must make constitutional arguments to elected officials, civil servants, and their fellow citizens, as well as to state and federal justices. The Declaration, while not a direct source of legal rules, plays vital roles both in the process of constitutional interpretation in the courts and the process of constitutional argument outside of courts. A law student who does not understand how such canonical texts function in American constitutionalism is not prepared for legal practice.

Keywords: political constitution, slavery, legal education, constitutional law, inalienable rights, consent of the governed, canonical text, constitutional interpretation, practice ready,

Suggested Citation

Graber, Mark, The Declaration of Independence and Contemporary Constitutional Pedagogy (April 21, 2016). Southern California Law Review, Forthcoming; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2768215

Mark Graber (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

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