Published Humanitas, Volume XXXIII, Nos. 1 & 2, 2020

My thanks to the participants in this symposium. I know that my co-author, George Carey, would be as gratified as I am at the serious consideration given, here, to Constitutional Morality and the Rise of Quasi-Law.

At first I was puzzled by William Gangi’s summation of our book as one that addresses the adage that “a constitution originating in one country may not be transplanted to another country and be expected to work in the same manner as it had in the country of origin.” The book includes some comparative analysis of constitutions to show their reliance on the underlying culture for their success and the importance of the fit between tradition and text. Still, it focuses on the American Constitution, not on the application of any country’s constitution to other countries. Then again, as Gangi notes, in a more fundamental sense our book is about the interaction between the written constitution of the United States and the unwritten constitution of institutions, beliefs, and practices that shaped the American people, the American culture, and the constitutional morality that until fairly recently held officials to their public duties. This is a particular instance of the universal problem of “fit” between constitution and culture.

To a disappointing degree America has become a different country from that for which the original Constitution was written. Americans no longer are a predominantly religious people both grounded in and devoted to family, church, and local association. Self-government under God is no longer the telos or intrinsic goal of American society…

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