The Declaration of Independence and Constitutional Interpretation

By James P. Allen

What role does the Declaration have in constitutional interpretation, if any?

When it comes to understanding the meaning of the Constitution, many Americans don’t give the Declaration of Independence the first thought. But some argue that as the founding American document, everything hangs on it, and we must interpret the Constitution exclusively through the Declaration. They view the Constitution and the government it created as a mechanism through which we realize principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence. 


Delegated and Reserved Powers: Nullification Opponents Flip the Constitution Upside Down

For over a year, we’ve repeatedly heard from supporters of an organization called Convention of States Project​ that nullification can’t or shouldn’t be done because – “Nullification….is not in the Constitution.”

We’re not sure why this particular message comes from this direction, but it’s consistent, and common.

More important, though, this is a great example of the complete and utter lack of constitutional education in this country.


Podcast: American foreign policy, Iran and the Constitution

From the National Constitution Center Bruce Ackerman is the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University. His latest book is We the People: The Civil Rights Revolution. Louis Fisher is Scholar in Residence at the Constitution Project. He previously worked for four decades at the Library of Congress as a Senior Specialist…


Obama’s ISIS AUMF: Codifying “Mission Creep”

by Gene Healy, CATO Institute Today, six months after President Obama unilaterally launched our latest war in Iraq, five months after he expanded the war to Syria, four months after his administration thought up a name for the war, and three months after he promised to go to Congress for authorization, the president sent congressional…


Constitution 101: What Is Tonnage?

Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 (I-10-3) of the Constitution forbids states from imposing any “Duty of Tonnage” without the consent of Congress.

During the Founding Era, tonnage was a levy imposed on the cargo capacity of ships entering or leaving harbors. As the Constitution’s words indicate, it was a species in a larger class of financial exactions known as duties.


Boehner’s Plan for Netanyahu to Address Congress is Unconstitutional

As has been widely reported, House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to address the U.S. Congress.  If Congress does host the speech, would it be unconstitutional?  Peter Spiro at Opinio Juris suggests that it would.  I agree.