Matthew G. Andersson (B.A. Texas; MBA Chicago), Asserting Our American Christian and Classical Heritage, A Summer of Reading on the Constitution:
Order in the new republic was impossible without law, but law impossible without morality, and morality was impossible without religion. For early American jurists and scholars, in an attitude quite foreign to us now, the common law was of “obligation indispensable” and of “origin divine.” Indeed, to one United States Supreme Court Associate Justice, Joseph Story, it was the duty of the American government to promote the Christian religion, to aid in the salvation of American citizens.
—Stephen Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus, Northwestern University School of Law
It is impossible for those who believe in the truth of Christianity as a Divine revelation, to doubt that it is the especial duty of government to foster and encourage it among all the citizens and subjects.
—Joseph Story, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, Dane Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States 260 (1840)
In the beautiful summer months of America, many of us make a stack of books that we meant to get to during the rest of the year. ... [W]e have some peace and solitude, to read, contemplate, and enjoy some great books. I’ve read several in the subjects of American constitutional law and history, and thought I would share with you, some of these books, and most importantly, what messages they contain about our great Nation, and the traditions we should be proud of, along with some challenges, and risks, that we will have to confront. ...
Over this Summer I’ve read many books in law, as part of a larger law book project that I’ve undertaken. A few of these (out of dozens) have struck me as especially poignant, if inspirational (and a few cautionary) and I’d like to share some of them with you, in a brief discussion concerning the philosophical basis of our country, which in my view needs continuous refreshing and remembrance, but more, a continuous effort in understanding, and an effort that results in personal “ownership” of American principles that invite us to strive for higher order functioning among ourselves, independently, and as a group, seeking a more unitary, rather than divisive, culture. ...
- Richard A. Epstein, The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government (Harvard University Press 2014)
- Morton Horowitz, The Transformation of American Law: 1780-1860 (Harvard University Press 1979)
- Morton Horowitz, The Transformation of American Law: 1870-1960 (Oxford University Press 1991)
- Robert F. Nagel, The Implosion of American Federalism (Oxford University Press 2002)
- Donald L. Drakeman, Church, State, and Original Intent (Cambridge University Press 2009)
- Alison LaCroix, The Ideological Origins of American Federalism (Harvard University Press 2011)
- Anna Harvey, A Mere Machine: The Supreme Court, Congress, and American Democracy (Yale University Press 2014)
- Stephen Presser, Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered (Regency Publishing 1994)
- Bruce Kuklick, A History of Philosophy in America: 1720-2000 (Clarendon Press 2003)
- Benjamin F. Morris, The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (1864)
The United States Constitution, as Richard Epstein says in his very first opening statement, “must on any neutral evaluation, count as the greatest triumph of political statecraft in the history of the world.” I heartily agree. And to that I would add that it must also count as a magnificent gift of a great God as envisioned by a broad Catholic faith, which empowered us to triumph as free and self-directed individuals, sovereign in our life, liberty and property, and in full control of a limited government organized to serve and protect those interests by remaining subservient to a Constitution formed by the people of the States. That Constitution says what their law is, and no more.