Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that the earth belongs to the living. His letter to James Madison is often quoted for the proposition that we should not be bound to the 'dead hand of the past', suggesting that the Constitution should instead be interpreted as a living, breathing document. Less well-known is Madison's response, in which he said the improvements made by the dead - including the US Constitution - form a debt against the living, who benefit from them. In this illuminating book, Ilan Wurman introduces Madison's concept of originalism to a new generation and shows how it has shaped the US Supreme Court in ways that are expected to continue following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the theory's leading proponents.

Prof. McConnell will join author Ilan Wurman to discuss A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism.


Prof. Michael W. McConnell, Richard and Frances Mallery Professor, Director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford Law School

Ilan Wurman, Author, A Debt Against the Living: An Introduction to Originalism; Nonresident Fellow, Constitutional Law Center, Stanford Law School



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