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Original Intent & the Framers of the Constitution Hardcover – January 20, 1994
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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From Library Journal
The current political and social debate about constitutional jurisprudence is appropriately framed here by Jaffa, professor emeritus of political philosophy at Claremont Graduate Schools. He examines the judicial interpretations by various American political thinkers and jurists of founding Constitutional principles. Jaffa supports a higher law/natural law interpretation of the Constitution. He argues, "Modern liberalism and modern conservatism thus viewed, stand upon common ground." Contributors Bruce Ledewitz, Robert Stone, and George Anastaplo criticize Jaffa's main essay, and he responds. All the articles focus attention on the question, "What were the 'original intentions' of the Framers of the Constitution?" For academic legal collections.
- Steven Puro, St. Louis Univ.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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One might read Jaffa's account and conclude that Meese was simply responding to Jaffa's behavior the way a polite man would. Jaffa's rhetoric in this book also strikes the reader as being aimed below the belt.
Following on a private letter that James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson well after both of them had retired from public life, Jaffa insists that all of the constitution must be read in the refracted light of the Declaration of Independence. This is a common reading of the Old Left, one that Abraham Lincoln and Mario Cuomo share.
Of course, it has no relationship to reality. Neither in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 nor in the ratifying conventions did people make a point of holding the constitution to the Declaration's standard; indeed, given that the Declaration includes sections upbraiding King George III for trying to provoke slave rebellions in Virginia, one wonders exactly how "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" have come to seem to Jaffa, _et al._ to be the Declaration's message.
Avoid this book, then, unless you desire to see an exotic brand of "conservatism" in its most virulent strain. Other than that, it's both unreliable and unreadable.