Common Good Constitutionalism
The way that Americans understand their Constitution and wider legal tradition has been dominated in recent decades by two exhausted approaches: the originalism of conservatives and the “living constitutionalism” of progressives. Is it time to look for an alternative?
Adrian Vermeule argues that the alternative has been there, buried in the American legal tradition, all along. He shows that US law was, from the founding, subsumed within the broad framework of the classical legal tradition, which conceives law as “a reasoned ordering to the common good.” In this view, law’s purpose is to promote the goods a flourishing political community requires: justice, peace, prosperity, and morality. He shows how this legacy has been lost, despite still being implicit within American public law, and convincingly argues for its recovery in the form of “common good constitutionalism.”
This erudite and brilliantly original book is a vital intervention in America’s most significant contemporary legal debate while also being an enduring account of the true nature of law that will resonate for decades with scholars and students.