Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Judicial Philosophy

I a review of Justice Stevens's new book, I stumbled over this bit:

Justice Stevens never offered broad theories of constitutional decision-making. Instead he styled himself as a minimalist, wary of (as he put it years ago) "the danger that the glittering generality will turn out to be an overstatement that fails to anticipate the contemporary garb in which a basic theme will appear in future cases."

Criticism of "glittering generalities" was centeral to the critique of the Declaration in antebellum America.  Although he seems not to have been the first to use the phrase Rufus Choate is generally credited with popularizing the term, and associating it with opposition to natural right.

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