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CONSTITUTIONALIST

July 25-26: Who Should Elect the President?

The Convention spent a considerable amount of time going around in circles regarding how to elect the President. For the most part, there was agreement that they ought not be chosen by the Legislature. So the question then became who was to choose presidents if not the legislature. Since this would be a national office, … Continue reading July 25-26: Who Should Elect the President?

Action Civics Should be Celebrated, Not Banned

Anthony L. Ives is an assistant professor in the department of political science at Texas A&M University. Regina M. Mills is an assistant professor of Latinx and Multi-Ethnic Literature in the department of english at Texas A&M University. This summer Florida state legislators unanimously voted to place new emphasis on civic education literacy and a … Continue reading Action Civics Should be Celebrated, Not Banned

July 25: Who Wrote the Virginia Plan?

On July 25, as the Convention moved gradually toward an Electoral College as the mode of choosing Presidents, Madison took a stand against appointment by Congress:  Election by the legislature was, he said, liable to insuperable objections. Besides the general influence of that mode on the independence of the Executive, 1. the election of the Chief … Continue reading July 25: Who Wrote the Virginia Plan?

July 23 and 24: ‘The Authority of the People’

July 23 and 24 featured different debates with an overlapping theme: the extent and, perhaps more important, the nature of popular sovereignty. The question on July 23 was whether the proposed Constitution should be submitted to state legislatures or popular conventions for approval. Some of that dispute revolved around whether the state legislatures, which would … Continue reading July 23 and 24: ‘The Authority of the People’

July 21: The Council of Revision

July 21 witnessed an abortive attempt to revive the Council of Revision, which would have empowered a panel of Supreme Court justices and the President to veto Congressional bills. Curiously, James Wilson and James Madison—the Convention’s and, later, The Federalist’s foremost advocates of the separation of powers—were also champions of the Council of Revision. Both … Continue reading July 21: The Council of Revision

July 20: Impeachment

Having discussed the great strength of the President during the previous day, the Convention now turned to the crucial control on that strength: impeachment. The form of the Constitution not just here but throughout the structure always ties power to responsibility. The President can be vigorous because the President is subject both to reelection and … Continue reading July 20: Impeachment

July 19: Executive Strength, Independence, and Re-eligibility

I apologize for posting this a day late. Unlike those in the Constitutional Convention, I think summer vacations are essential! After having completed the debate on representation discussed in our previous posts, they began another difficult debate about the strength of the executive. Whereas the debate about representation mostly centered on questions of interest, rather … Continue reading July 19: Executive Strength, Independence, and Re-eligibility

The GOP’s Minoritarian Defense and Justificatory Schema

Laura K. Field is a writer and political theorist, Scholar in residence at American University, and Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center. She is a regular contributor to The Constitutionalist. Counter-majoritarianism isn’t in and of itself always a problem. But when it’s based on desperate lies about the majority it sure is. I have a confession: I … Continue reading The GOP’s Minoritarian Defense and Justificatory Schema

July 18 in the Constitutional Convention: Judicial Confirmations

The central issue on July 18 was the mode of appointing justices to the Supreme Court. The first motion put to the Convention would have assigned that authority to the Senate alone. Nathaniel Ghorum of Massachusetts thought the accountability of a legislative body would be too diffuse: No one member would feel responsible for a … Continue reading July 18 in the Constitutional Convention: Judicial Confirmations

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About The Constitutionalist

The Constitutionalist is dedicated to the intellectual and political work of constitutional democracy. Our authors are open to a range of political perspectives, but we are unified by a capacious understanding of the constitutional endeavor–namely, we believe that constitutions are sustained not only by law, but also by civil society and civic norms. Using our expertise in political philosophy, American political development, public law, and political culture and literature, we aim to foster conversation across disciplinary lines and beyond the confines of academia. We believe this kind of conversation is vital to the creation and maintenance of good constitutions. Though we are interested in what happens elsewhere, our primary focus is on the American experience.

The Jack Miller Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to reinvigorating education in America’s founding principles and history, an education vital to thoughtful and engaged citizenship. They support professors and educators who share our mission, offering programs, resources, fellowships, and more to help them teach our nation’s students—from high school through college.