The Makers of the Unwritten Constitution: The Fred Morgan Kirby Lectures, Delivered at Lafayette College, 1929

The Makers of the Unwritten Constitution: The Fred Morgan Kirby Lectures, Delivered at Lafayette College, 1929

The Makers of the Unwritten Constitution: The Fred Morgan Kirby Lectures, Delivered at Lafayette College, 1929

The Makers of the Unwritten Constitution: The Fred Morgan Kirby Lectures, Delivered at Lafayette College, 1929

Excerpt

The written Constitution of the United States is a document that occupies five pages of print in the World Almanac and can be read in half an hour. But alongside it, and based upon it, there has developed during the past hundred and forty years an unwritten constitution of vastly greater dimensions. It fills the statutes-at-large, the law reports, the printed laws of the individual commonwealths, and constitutional treatises to the extent of a million pages or more. This unwritten constitution is made up of federal and state enactments, judicial decisions, usages, doctrines, precedents, official opinions, and points of view which have profoundly altered the implications of the original instrument. It has made the government of the United States a different affair from that which the framers of the written Constitution intended it to be.

So great has this divergence become at the present day that no one can now obtain even a silhouette of the American political system if he confines his study to the nation's fundamental law as it left the hands of its architects in 1787. Its words and phrases . . .

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