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Constitutional ConscienceThe Moral Dimension of Judicial Decision$
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H. Jefferson Powell

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226677255

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226677309.001.0001

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Conclusion To Govern Ourselves in a Certain Manner

Conclusion To Govern Ourselves in a Certain Manner

(p.117) Conclusion To Govern Ourselves in a Certain Manner
Constitutional Conscience
University of Chicago Press

The Supreme Court's first great constitutional decision, Chisholm v. Georgia, was also its first great public relations disaster. Chisholm held that Article III authorized the Court to exercise jurisdiction over a state at the suit of a citizen of another state; within two years of the decision, the cumbersome amendment process of Article V had overturned the decision through what is now known as the Eleventh Amendment. This chapter raises what it believes to be the most fundamental question about American constitutionalism: is it a good idea? American constitutional law has permitted great evil at times—one need only think of slavery. And the U.S. constitutional law does privilege, for some purposes, the decisions of a professional elite headed by the Court. The Constitution, and the practices that give it life, offer no guarantees: they are an experiment, one that rests political community on a law and a politics that must be informed by the conscience of those who make up, and speak for, that community.

Keywords:   Supreme Court, Chisholm v. Georgia, Eleventh Amendment, constitutionalism, constitutional law, Constitution, conscience, politics

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