Chapter

Legitimacy and Meaning: The Significance of Public Debate to the Adoption of the Constitution

Max. M Edling

in A Revolution in Favor of Government

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195148701
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835096 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195148703.003.0002
Legitimacy and Meaning: The Significance of Public Debate to the Adoption of the Constitution

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Argues that the role of debate in the struggle over ratification was significant to the adoption of the US Constitution because public debate was a necessary step in the decision‐making process leading to its ratification. It was a necessary step because adoption would not have been legitimate without the possibility of public debate, but the debate was also significant in another way: it provided the first widely shared and detailed interpretation of important clauses of the Constitution. This original elucidation of the meaning of the Constitution later served as the point of origin for constitutional interpretation in the political life of the early republic – an authoritative source for establishing the meaning of the Constitution.

Keywords: adoption of the US Constitution; legitimacy; public debate; ratification; US Constitution; USA

Chapter.  7549 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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