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Vol 23 No 3 March/April 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

Price: £225.00

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The Language of Law and the Foundations of American Constitutionalism

ISBN13: 9780521140911
Published: August 2010
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: USA
Format: Paperback
Price: £25.99

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For much of its history, the interpretation of the United States Constitution presupposed judges seeking the meaning of the text and the original intentions behind that text, a process that was deemed by Chief Justice John Marshall to be ‘the most sacred rule of interpretation’. Since the end of the nineteenth century, a radically new understanding has developed in which the moral intuition of the judges is allowed to supplant the Constitution’s original meaning as the foundation of interpretation. The Founders’ Constitution of fixed and permanent meaning has been replaced by the idea of a ‘living’ or evolving constitution. Gary L. McDowell refutes this new understanding, recovering the theoretical grounds of the original Constitution as understood by those who framed and ratified it. It was, he argues, the intention of the Founders that the judiciary must be bound by the original meaning of the Constitution when interpreting it.

Jurisprudence, Other Jurisdictions , USA
Introduction: the politics of original intention
1. The Constitution and the scholarly tradition: recovering the Founders' Constitution
2. Nature and the language of law: Thomas Hobbes and the foundations of modern constitutionalism
3. Language, law, and liberty: John Locke and the structures of modern constitutionalism
4. The limits of natural law: modern constitutionalism and the science of interpretation
5. The greatest improvement on political institutions: natural rights, written constitutions and the intention of the people
6. Chains of the Constitution: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the political metaphysics of strict construction
7. The most sacred rule of interpretation: John Marshall, originalism, and the limits of judicial power
8. The same yesterday, to-day, and forever: Joseph Story and the permanence of constitutional meaning
Epilogue: the moral foundations of originalism.