Book Talk: Constitutional Ethos: Liberal Equality for the Common Good

March 29, 2017

Please join the Lillian Goldman Law Library and the American Constitution Society at YLS for a discussion with Alexander Tsesis about his latest book, Constitutional Ethos: Liberal Equality for the Common Good, on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 6:10 – 7:00 pmSLB 122. Commentary provided by Jack Balkin.

Judges, courts, and scholars in the United States agree that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, but there is much disagreement about its meaning.

Constitutional Ethos is a groundbreaking investigation into the fundamental principles of constitutional principle, meaning, and interpretation. It explores the core purposes of American representative democracy in light of historical sources, recent precedents, and contemporary debates. Alexander Tsesis argues that a central norm of U.S. law can be derived from the Declaration of Independence and Preamble.

This book develops a theory of constitutional law structured on the public duty to protect individual rights for the general welfare. The maxim of constitutional governance synthesizes the protection of individual and public rights. The ideal is neither solely theoretical nor customary but tied to a firm foundation that the people then build upon by lobbying elected officials and petitioning appointed judges. Representative government has an interlinked obligation to the individual and the general welfare. This paradigm for responsible governance sets the baseline against which citizens can hold policy makers accountable to the structural and normative commitments of the Constitution. A pluralistic system must respect human dignity and govern for the betterment of the body politic.

Alexander Tsesis is the Raymond & Mary Simon Chair in Constitutional Law and Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. He teaches Constitutional Law, First Amendment, Civil Procedure, and seminars devoted to civil rights issues and constitutional interpretation.

Jack M. Balkin is Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School. He is the founder and director of Yale’s Information Society Project, and directs the Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression and Knight Law and Media Program at Yale.

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