Constitutional Conventions and the Deficit

E. Donald Elliott, Yale Law School


Law is, by its nature, a conservative force. The role of lawyers, particularly academic lawyers, is to preserve a tradition. Our legal tradition, like the myths and rituals of primitive peoples, stores the accumulated wisdom and experience of our tribe. But the tradition is not the tribe. Like every priesthood, sometimes lawyers must follow, not lead. The tradition of which we lawyers are the guardians is not the only repository of wisdom in society. The ultimate source of law, of the collective will expressed through the state, is "We, the people."