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?

 

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6 of 6: How Long Has Originalism Been Around? [No. 86]

Professor Michael McConnell argues that Originalism is not a new concept. Nor is it a concept that only appeals or reinforces the goals of a particular political party. It is a theory that upholds the authority of the Constitution and the power of th ... Professor Michael McConnell argues that Originalism is not a new concept. Nor is it a concept that only appeals or reinforces the goals of a particular political party. It is a theory that upholds the authority of the Constitution and the power of the democratic process to make laws.

Michael William McConnell is a constitutional law scholar who served as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit from 2002 until 2009. Since 2009, McConnell has served as Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School.

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

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