Our legal heritage is rich, perhaps too rich. The modern judge looks back to two traditions, each layered over with the work of centuries, each intertwined with the other,but nonetheless distinct. The tradition of Anglo-American common law nears its millennium, offering up a tangle of craft and precedent from different eras. Compared to this, the tradition of American constitutional law is adolescent. And yet it provides the modern world's longest continuing judicial project in public law-one with its own narrative structure, decisive precedents, and cautionary tales. Given this embarrassment of riches, each judge, each era, must confront its own task of integration: how to organize common law and constitutional law into a meaningful whole?
Date of Authorship for this Version
Ackerman, Bruce, "The Common Law Constitution of John Marshall Harlan" (1991). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 138.