Nondelegation and the (Un)Written Constitution

Thanks to Greg for his thoughtful comments—and especially for his generous praise of the book and essay. I agree with him that text and structure very often go together and that unwritten constitutional claims that are rooted in text and structure merit greater deference. Or, as I think I’d put it, are simply more powerful claims. On this, let me highlight the book’s title, which should matter to textualists: It’s the (Un)Written Constitution, because the written text is primary; it is what we are interpreting. But because the written text does not always explain itself, we read the text based on underlying ideas. This … Continue reading Nondelegation and the (Un)Written Constitution

What Causes the Canon to Endure

While I’m somewhat sympathetic to Greg Weiner’s point in “Endurance and the Canon,” I need to emphasize a point he overlooks, namely what causes “the canon” to endure. Some ideas endure on account of their intellectual merit–i.e., because they have intellectual staying power. Ben’s examples of Thucydides and Toni Morrison’s Beloved are examples of this phenomenon; because these works tackle problems inherent to humanity, people are likely to seek them out as resources for understanding these problems as long as they’re in print. But some ideas stay around, not because they have any ideational value whatsoever, but because historically they benefit a certain part of society at the … Continue reading What Causes the Canon to Endure