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FramedAmerica's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance$
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Sanford Levinson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199890750

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199890750.001.0001

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Of Compromises and Constitutions

Of Compromises and Constitutions

(p.33) 2 Of Compromises and Constitutions

Sanford Levinson

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the U.S. Constitution and the compromises that were almost certainly necessary to achieve it, including what may be described as “selling out” the (legitimate) interests of one group in order to achieve the greater goal of establishing a constitutional order. It first considers the views of John Rawls about concessions that accompany constitutions and sometimes include waiving what one might consider fundamental norms of justice. It then discusses two central issues that generated the most famous and enduring “great compromises” during the Philadelphia Convention that made the U.S. Constitution a political possibility: political representation and slavery. It also looks at Congress as a forum for compromises about representation.

Keywords:   compromises, U.S. Constitution, constitutional order, John Rawls, concessions, justice, Philadelphia Convention, political representation, slavery, Congress

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