Four Views of the Nature of the Union

25 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2024

Date Written: March 23, 2024


This Essay summarizes four Founding-Era views about the nature of the Union and the key interpretive implications that followed from those views. In doing so, it emphasizes the importance of social-contract theory and engages a recent scholarly debate over the influence of the law of nations on Founding-Era constitutional interpretation. Without taking a position about which view of the Union was correct, the Essay aims to illuminate the range of interpretive possibilities, including ones informed more by social-contractarian premises than by the law of nations.

Keywords: federalism, nature of the Union, law of nations, originalism

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Campbell, Wesley, Four Views of the Nature of the Union (March 23, 2024). 47 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 13 (2024), Available at SSRN:

Wesley Campbell (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

Constitutional Law Center
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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