Jack Balkin’s Interview with Sanford Levinson

Jack Balkin最近發表了一篇,他針對Sanford Levinson新書的訪問:An Argument to All(按此瀏覽Jack Balkin的訪問),關於這本書我們之前有轉載Adrian Vermeule的書評(按此瀏覽)。Balkin的訪談,有一段很有意思,是當他討論到法學院學生只讀一部分的聯邦黨人論文集,Balkin問Levinson的建議,他的回應是,給大家參考!此外,台灣法理學會在2012年時有邀請林繼文教授,導讀聯邦黨人論文集,也一併推薦給大家(按此瀏覽轉載內容)!

JB: Most law students read only a few of the essays in The Federalist. What parts of The Federalist are most relevant today that people don’t pay enough attention to? What parts do you think are least relevant today?

SL: I have discovered, while teaching these materials at Harvard and giving a lecture at Chicago, that very few law students have read many of the essays.  I take this as evidence that almost no history or political science courses, even at the elite schools from which Harvard and Chicago draw their students, bother any longer to assign more than a very few of the essays.  If any are assigned, they are likely to be ##10, 47, 51, and 78.  I think this is a shame.  For starters, I would certainly assign ##1, 2, 6, 14, 15, 17, 23, 37, 40, 41, 46, 49, and almost all of the essays on executive power, including the veto and the pardoning power.  All are relevant in quite different ways.  I’ve already mentioned Federalist 1.  Federalist 2, built around a preposterous notion that there was a singular homogeneous American people in 1787, offers a vital entry-point into the debates today about immigration, multiculturalism, and diversity.  Nos. 40-41, as already mentioned, offer real challenges to anyone inclined to read Publius as an unabashed admirer of “the rule of law” in times of emergency.  Even some truly esoteric essays on ancient and medieval confederations (##18-20) are altogether relevant to thinking about the tensions facing Europe today, inasmuch as the EU is, at bottom, a mere “confederation” and not a US-style consolidated government.  Those essays are full of shrewd points on why no “confederation,” including the US under the Articles of Confederation, can really be effective.  And I have become especially fond, in a way, of Federalist 11 inasmuch as it explains why countries like China and Iran are altogether rational in trying to build a strong military to defend themselves against would-be hegemons that are certainly unfriendly to their desires to play a stronger role in the international political-military order.

The fact is that Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were unusually able political thinkers and masters of the rhetorical arts, and each of their essays, if read carefully, can easily generate productive discussions even today.


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