Tag Archives: U.S. Constitution

Shira Lurie: “Liberty Poles and the Two American Revolutions”

“In the 1790s, two political parties emerged, each with its own view of what the American Revolution had been fought for and what it had achieved. The Federalists, those who supported the Washington and Adams administrations, believed that the Revolution had established representative government and majority rule as the backbones of popular sovereignty. Americans would no longer suffer taxation without representation, as they now had a government of their own choosing. In contrast, the Republicans, the emergent opposition party, held that the Revolution had been about popular resistance to tyrannical legislation. To them, the Revolution had secured for citizens the ability to regulate government conduct through crowd action.”

Jack M. Balkin: “How to tell if you are in a constitutional crisis”

When people talk about constitutional crisis in the Trump Administration:         ‘A constitutional crisis occurs when there is a serious danger that the Constitution is about to fail at its central task. The central task of constitutions is to keep disagreement within the boundaries of ordinary politics rather than breaking down into anarchy, violence, or civil war.  To be sure, constitutions are also valuable because they protect civil liberties and divide and restrain power; but their first job is to keep the peace and make people struggle with each other within politics rather than outside of it.

When people are upset at what government officials have done, they often call these actions constitutional crises. However, most of these situations aren’t really constitutional crises, because there is no real danger that the Constitution is about to break down.  The vast majority of uses of the term “constitutional crisis” are hyperbole.’

The Constitutional debate at the 1788 Virginia Ratification Convention

In The Fate of the Revolution:  Virginians Debate the Constitution (2016) Lorri Glover “raises the provocative, momentous constitutional questions that consumed Virginians, echoed across American history, and still resonate today. This engaging book harnesses the uncertainty and excitement of the Constitutional debates to show readers the clear departure the Constitution marked, the powerful reasons people had to view it warily, and the persuasive claims that Madison and his allies finally made with success.”