The 'Common-Good' Manifesto

46 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2022 Last revised: 11 Jan 2023

See all articles by William Baude

William Baude

University of Chicago - Law School

Stephen E. Sachs

Harvard Law School

Date Written: August 15, 2022


In “Common Good Constitutionalism,” Adrian Vermeule expounds a constitutional vision that might “direct persons, associations, and society generally toward the common good.” The book must be taken seriously as an intellectual challenge, particularly to leading theories of originalism.

That said, the challenge fails. The book fails to support its hostility toward originalism, to motivate its surprising claims about outcomes, or even to offer an account of constitutionalism at all. Its chief objections to originalism are unpersuasive and already answered in the literature it cites. The book does highlight important points of history and jurisprudence, of which originalists and others might need to take account; yet those points remain underdeveloped. In the end, the book might be best understood as what Vermeule once called a “constitutional manifesto”: a work of “movement jurisprudence” whose political aims come into conflict with theoretical rigor.

Keywords: common good constitutionalism, originalism, natural law, constitutional theory

JEL Classification: K1, K10, Y3, Y30

Suggested Citation

Baude, William and Sachs, Stephen E., The 'Common-Good' Manifesto (August 15, 2022). Harvard Law Review, Vol. 136, pp. 861-906 (2023), Available at SSRN: or

William Baude

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Stephen E. Sachs (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-5009 (Phone)

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