Framed for Posterity The Enduring Philosophy of the Constitution

ISBN-10: 0700605916
ISBN-13: 9780700605910
Edition: 1993
Authors: Ralph Ketcham
List price: $37.00 Buy it from $7.04
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Description: In Marbury v. Madison Chief Justice John Marshall defined the Constitution as "a superior, paramount law," one that superseded the laws passed by Congress and state legislatures. What makes it paramount? This book sets out to recover the enduring  More...

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Book details

List price: $37.00
Copyright year: 1993
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
Publication date: 5/1/1993
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 208
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.276
Language: English

In Marbury v. Madison Chief Justice John Marshall defined the Constitution as "a superior, paramount law," one that superseded the laws passed by Congress and state legislatures. What makes it paramount? This book sets out to recover the enduring principles, purposes, and meanings that inform the founders' charter and continue to offer us political guidance more than 200 years later. In so doing it steers a middle course between "originalists" who constrict interpretation to constitutional specifics and "relativists" who adapt the Constitution to the moment by ignoring original meaning. "Original intent," Ralph Ketcham argues, is best discerned by a study of the political climate that nourished the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and, more particularly, by understanding the broader meanings, intentions, and purposes of the framers. To recover this full context of political thinking, Ketcham delves not only into the meaning of the documents but also into the connotations of the framers' vocabulary, the reasoning behind both accepted and rejected propositions, arguments for and against, and unstated assumptions. In his analysis the fundamental or enduring principles are republicanism, liberty, public good, and federalism (as part of the broader doctrine of balance of powers). Ketcham answers convincingly those who question the relevance to modern constitutional interpretation of the finding that the founders were both republican and liberal. He asserts that the rights-protecting character of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights derived from the founders' belief that private rights depended upon active government and public virtue. In other words, private liberties rested on the citizenry's right to self-governance. James Madison sought to ensure a system of government that would serve as guardian "both of public Good and of private rights." In providing an interpretation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that incorporates both republican and liberal perspectives, Ketcham should find a wide readership among politically active citizens, lawyers, judges, and those who teach and study constitutional law and political theory.

Ralph Ketcham is professor of American studies at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University.

Preface
What Is a Constitution?
The Question of Original Intent
The Constitution as Higher Law
Constitutionalism in the United States
The Enduring Principles of the Constitution
The Enlightenment
Republicanism
Liberty
The Public Good
Federalism
Federalists and Antifederalists
The Bill of Rights
Origins
Government by Consent
Good Government
The Constitution in the Twenty-First Century
The Limits of Constitutional Prescription
The Constitution: What the Judges Say It Is?
Personal Liberty and Political Freedom
Notes
Bibliographical Essay
Index

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