American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Herbert Sloan: A Living Constitution

Published September 16, 2011

Herbert Sloan, Barnard College
A Living Constitution
December 13, 2010

Legal historian Herbert Sloan argues against the theory of originalism in making the case for a “Living Constitution.” Sloan cites the lack of evidence from the Constitutional framers themselves to explain the difficulty of determining with any certainty their “original intent.”  He also documents the belief of at least some framers that the Constitution would have to change and grow to accommodate new challenges and circumstances.  Sloan follows up with a discussion of landmark Supreme Court cases that illustrate the need for a Living Constitution and explains why Thomas Jefferson, who was in France during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, believed that the Constitution should be rewritten every nineteen years.

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