An Evaluation of Historical Evidence for Constitutional Construction From the First Congress’ Debate Over the Constitutionality of the First Bank of the United States

14 Pages Posted: 26 May 2018  

Lee J. Strang

University of Toledo College of Law

Date Written: May 14, 2018

Abstract

In this Essay, I review a modest selection of important evidence from the early Republic, the debate over the constitutionality of the First Bank of the United States in the First Congress, to evaluate whether, to what extent, and how Americans utilized constitutional construction in the early Republic. This Essay derives a number of tentative conclusions from this evidence. First, the participants in this early debate appeared to believe that a necessary precondition for constitutional construction — underdeterminacy — existed. Second, the participants also argued as if, after the application of a number of interpretative rules, the Constitution provided a determinate answer to the constitutional question. Third, the participants seemed ultimately to conclude that the Constitution’s meaning provided a determinate answer to the question under debate (though they continued to disagree about what that answer was).

Keywords: Originalism, Constitutional Construction, Rules of Interpretation, First Bank of United States

Suggested Citation

Strang, Lee J., An Evaluation of Historical Evidence for Constitutional Construction From the First Congress’ Debate Over the Constitutionality of the First Bank of the United States (May 14, 2018). 14 University of St. Thomas Law Journal, 193, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3178746

Lee J. Strang (Contact Author)

University of Toledo College of Law ( email )

2801 W. Bancroft Street
Toledo, OH 43606
United States
419-530-2877 (Phone)

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