Originalism: Historic and Philosophic Roots

Originalism: Historic and Philosophic Roots

Why study Constitution and influences on our Founding Fathers? What insights do they have for us today?

This unit in the No. 86 video curriculum explores some key ideas that undergirded the writing of the Constitution: natural rights, separation of powers, mixed regime theory, federalism.  These ideas came from varied sources: the British Constitutional experience, English and Scottish Enlightenment scholars, the French philosopher Montesquieu, and others.

“Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government, and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights in order to vest it with requisite powers.”

― Federalist No. 2

The Constitution is a complex document, one that was ratified only after intense debate.  Studying that complexity enables us to better understanding the origins of the document.

This unit also deals with normative questions such as:  Does adherence to the Constitution of 1787 bind us to the ‘dead hand’ of the past?  What right did our Founding Fathers have to create a document that binds us today?

 

Play the next video in the series?

Watch Now

2 of 6: Intellectual Roots of the American Founding [No. 86]

Where did the Founders get their ideas about natural rights and social contracts? Professor Steven Calabresi highlights the British authors who wrote about rights, sovereignty, and separation of powers. The Founders were greatly influenced by John L ... Where did the Founders get their ideas about natural rights and social contracts?

Professor Steven Calabresi highlights the British authors who wrote about rights, sovereignty, and separation of powers. The Founders were greatly influenced by John Locke who responded to the ideas of Thomas Hobbes. Professor Calabresi explains how Hobbes also influenced the famous William Blackstone. The concept of natural rights was a key component in the written Constitution and other founding documents.

Professor Steven G. Calabresi is the Clayton J. & Henry R. Barber Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. He is Chairman of the Federalist Society's Board of Directors.

As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

Subscribe to the series’ playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWwcngsYgoUXu97xPQ7LdAJ0Oh7I7w-Dt