In the Declaration of Independence, our founding generation announced our unalienable rights, and further recognized that “to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” Soon they would write and ratify a Constitution “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Finally, they elected President Washington and the first Congress, who would build institutions to actually administer our Constitution.

In short, America’s founding required ideas and institutions—and statesmen and citizen capable of both. It also required an unprecedented era of constitutional conversation among Americans, and between the United States and the world. That is the purpose of this course: pursuing a deeper understanding of our Constitution by studying the intellectual and political debates surrounding its founding, from the original ideas to the original institutions.

Image: United States Capitol (“Federal Capitol”) Floor Plan, Library of Congress

Adam White discusses the Supreme Court in American Law & Politics


Adam J. White

Adam J. White is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on American constitutionalism. Concurrently, he codirects the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

Gary J. Schmitt

Gary J. Schmitt is a senior fellow in the Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies program at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies issues related to the American presidency, the U.S. constitution and its principles, and American civic life.

Vincent Phillip Muñoz

Vincent Phillip Muñoz is the Tocqueville Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame.

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