September 01, 2014

Advance Sheet: Know Your Political Theory

The Constitution is not a mere code of laws; it needs special care and consideration whenever one goes to construe it.

Robert E. Shapiro

“[W]e must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding.” These words, of course, even the italics, are those of Chief Justice John Marshall inMcCulloch v. Maryland, explaining the perspective from which he would construe the Constitution’s “necessary and proper” clause. 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 407 (1819). They are often quoted by interpreters of and commentators on the Constitution, and they nicely communicate that the document is something lofty, out of the ordinary. As Marshall emphasizes, the Constitution is not a mere code of laws, nor catalogue of powers or procedures. It needs special care and consideration whenever one goes to construe it.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now