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The Closing of the Constitution

Review products

JonathanGienapp, The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018. Pp. 451. $35.00 hardcover (ISBN 9780674185043).

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 August 2019

Kevin Arlyck*
Affiliation:
Georgetown University Law Center

Extract

Anyone who picks up a recent volume of the United States Reports or a prominent legal journal will be sure to find judges and lawyers debating, in agonizing detail, the meaning of a particular word or phrase in the Constitution. Marshaling late-eighteenth century dictionaries and legal treatises, records of debates from the drafting and ratifying conventions, and well-thumbed copies of the Federalist Papers, modern constitutional interlocutors will scrutinize text, structure, and history to discern an inherent logic. Above all, although disputants will endlessly contest what a particular provision means, they largely agree on what the Constitution itself is: as Jonathan Gienapp puts it in The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era, “an artifact circumscribed in time and space,” the “fixed Constitution” that we have been collectively dissecting since the late 1780s (10).

Type
Review Essay
Copyright
Copyright © the American Society for Legal History, Inc. 2019 

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