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Notes on the Constitution

- Abstract

I TWO diverging traditions in the mainstream of Western political thought-one “liberal,” the other “conservative”-have competed, and still compete, for control of the democratic process and of the American constitutional system; both have determined the direction of our judicial policy at one time or another.

One of these, the contractarian tradition, began with the moderate common sense of John Locke. It was pursued by Rousseau, and it long ago captured, and substantially retains possession of, the label liberal, although I would contest its title to it. The other tradition can, for lack of a better term, be called Whig in the English 18th-century sense. It is usually called conservative, and I would associate it chiefly with Edmund Burke. This is my own model.

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