Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution: A Disputed Question

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Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution: A Disputed Question is a unique contribution to the debate, begun by Attorney General Edwin Meese in the second Reagan administration, over the "original intentions of the Framers." Professor Jaffa agrees entirely with Meese's opinion that there is a need to confine judges to interpreting, not making law. Jaffa also agrees that original intent, rightly understood, is the only sound basis of constitutional jurisprudence. But he contends that Meese, Chief Justice...
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Overview

Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution: A Disputed Question is a unique contribution to the debate, begun by Attorney General Edwin Meese in the second Reagan administration, over the "original intentions of the Framers." Professor Jaffa agrees entirely with Meese's opinion that there is a need to confine judges to interpreting, not making law. Jaffa also agrees that original intent, rightly understood, is the only sound basis of constitutional jurisprudence. But he contends that Meese, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Judge Robert Bork - original intent's leading conservative proponents - have misunderstood its meaning. The Framers, and Abraham Lincoln, their greatest proponent, believed that the Constitution was anchored in the principles of natural law invoked by the Declaration of Independence. Rehnquist and Bork are moral relativists and legal positivists, says Professor Jaffa, who repudiate the very existence of natural law and deny that the Declaration of Independence has any role whatsoever in constitutional interpretation. Nearly all the great constitutional controversies of our time have swirled around the meaning of the "due process" and "equal protection" clauses of the 14th Amendment. Professor Jaffa contends that it is impossible to interpret the intent of the 14th Amendment without understanding the conflict between the principles and the compromises of the antebellum Constitution. This conflict came to a head in 1857 in the case of Dred Scott. Professor Jaffa shows that Rehnquist, Bork, and Meese have completely misunderstood that case, attributing to "substantive due process" or "judicial usurpation" what was in fact a failure on the part of the Court to understand that in a federal territory the black man's human nature gave him constitutional standing, slavery in the states to the contrary notwithstanding. Jaffa also shows that in their determined effort to avoid recourse to the Declaration in their interpretation of Dred Sco
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The current political and social debate about constitutional jurisprudence is appropriately framed here by Jaffa, professor emeritus of political philosophy at Claremont Graduate Schools. He examines the judicial interpretations by various American political thinkers and jurists of founding Constitutional principles. Jaffa supports a higher law/natural law interpretation of the Constitution. He argues, ``Modern liberalism and modern conservatism thus viewed, stand upon common ground.'' Contributors Bruce Ledewitz, Robert Stone, and George Anastaplo criticize Jaffa's main essay, and he responds. All the articles focus attention on the question, ``What were the `original intentions' of the Framers of the Constitution?'' For academic legal collections.-- Steven Puro, St. Louis Univ.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780895264961
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing, Incorporated, An Eagle Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/25/1993
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Table of Contents

About the Contributors
Acknowledgments
Pt. I Foreword: On Jaffa, Lincoln, Marshall, and Original Intent 1
Pt. II What Were the "Original Intentions" of the Framers of the Constitution of the United States? 11
Appendix II-A: Attorney General Meese, the Declaration, and the Constitution 55
Appendix II-B: Are These Truths Now, or Have They Ever Been, Self-Evident? 75
Appendix II-C: Original Intent and Justice Rehnquist 83
Pt. III Three Critiques 107
Judicial Conscience and Natural Rights: A Reply to Professor Jaffa 109
Professor Harry V. Jaffa Divides the House: A Respectful Protest and a Defense Brief 133
Seven Questions for Professor Jaffa 167
Appendix III-A: The Founders of Our Founders: Jerusalem, Athens, and the American Constitution 181
Appendix III-B: The Ambiguity of Justice in Plato's Republic 199
Appendix III-C: Private Rights and Public Law: The Founders' Perspective 209
Pt. IV Jaffa Replies to His Critics 235
Judicial Conscience and Natural Rights: A Reply to Professor Ledewitz 237
"Who Killed Cock Robin?" A Retrospective on the Bork Nomination and a Reply to "Jaffa Divides the House" 269
Appendix IV-A: The Closing of the Conservative Mind 291
Seven Answers for Professor Anastaplo 303
An Epilogue to Seven Answers 345
Professor Jaffa and That Old-Time Religion 359
"Our Ancient Faith," A Reply to Professor Anastaplo 369
Pt. V Afterword 387
Four Letters to Edwin Meese III 389
Index 401
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