Living Constitution, Dying Faith - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Living Constitution, Dying Faith

Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence

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“Watson is dead-on in his analysis of the living Constitution. Filling an important void in recent scholarship, this work powerfully explains how modern jurisprudence began with the Progressives’ mugging of America’s first principles in the name of history and change.” —Matthew Spalding, Hillsdale College

“The transformation of the judiciary into an activist legislator of social change has been one of the most remarked-upon—and, among conservatives, decried—political developments of the past century. In Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence, political philosopher Bradley C. S. Watson does an impressive job of analyzing how, exactly, this happened.” —National Review

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Description

In Living Constitution, Dying Faith, political scientist and legal historian Bradley Watson examines how the contemporary embrace of the “living” Constitution has arisen from the radical transformation of American political thought. This transformation, brought about in the late nineteenth century by the philosophies of social Darwinism and pragmatism, explains how and why contemporary jurisprudence is so alien to the constitutionalism of the American Founders. To understand why today’s courts rule the way they do, one must start with the ideas exposed by and explained in Watson’s timely tome.

Today’s view—rooted in progressivism—is not simply that we have an interpretable Constitution but also that we have a Constitution which must be interpreted in light of “historically situated,” continually evolving notions of the individual, the state, and society. This modern historical approach has been embraced by the judicial appointees of both Democratic and Republican presidents, by both liberals and conservatives, for a century or more. Living Constitution, Dying Faith shows how such an approach has directly undermined Americans’ faith in a limited Constitution—as well as their faith in the eternal verities.

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Reviews

“Bradley Watson is dead on in his analysis of the Living Constitution. Filling an important void in recent scholarship, this work powerfully explains how modern jurisprudence began with the Progressive’s mugging of America’s first principles in the name of history and change.”

Matthew Spalding, Hillsdale College

“The transformation of the judiciary into an activist legislator of social change has been one of the most remarked-upon—and, among conservatives, decried—political developments of the past century. In Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence, political philosopher Bradley C. S. Watson does an impressive job of analyzing how, exactly, this happened.”

Michael Potemra, National Review

“Those who were deperately confused, if not enraged, by candidate Barack Obama’s contention that the ideal federal judge should fashion his opinion in empathy with the more downtrodden and oppressed party in a case should consult Bradley Watson’s Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence to understand how the man who has become president could assert the primacy of personal opinion over law.”

Richard M. Reinsch, National Review

“A clear exposition of the ‘originalist’ position and is recommended for law, college, and university libraries.”

William H. Manz

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