A Concise Guide to the Federalist Papers as a Source of the Original Meaning of the United States Constitution

57 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2007 Last revised: 29 Mar 2017

Gregory E. Maggs

George Washington University Law School

Date Written: March 9, 2007

Abstract

Many lawyers, judges, law clerks, and legal scholars feel unprepared to make or evaluate claims about the original meaning of the Constitution based on the Federalist Papers. The typical law school curriculum acknowledges the importance of the Federalist Papers - usually by assigning Supreme Court cases which cite them - but does not treat the essays in depth. As a result, many law students and graduates still need accessible information about the creation, content, and distribution of the essays, manageable summaries of the theories under which the Federalist Papers might provide evidence of the original meaning, and instruction on possible grounds for impeaching claims about the original meaning based on the Federalist Papers.

I hope to address these needs in this guide to the Federalist Papers. The guide provides the essential background that lawyers, judges, law clerks, and legal scholars ought to have before advancing, contesting, or evaluating claims about the original meaning of the Constitution based on the Federalist Papers. I have tried to keep the guide concise in the hope that the intended audience will have time to read it. At the same time, I believe that the guide is sufficiently analytical to promote critical thinking, careful judgment, and judicious evaluation of arguments that rely on the Federalist Papers.

Keywords: federalist papers, publius, constitution, original meaning, original intent, original understanding, supreme court

Suggested Citation

Maggs, Gregory E., A Concise Guide to the Federalist Papers as a Source of the Original Meaning of the United States Constitution (March 9, 2007). George Washington University Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 258; George Washington University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 258. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=969675 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.969675

Gregory E. Maggs (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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