Friday, November 04, 2005

Fake Madison Quote in Widespread Use
Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.

     This quote, attributed to the Father of the Constitution, James Madison, was not written by him.  One acquaintance wrote the Library of Congress, which confirmed it was not in his papers, although this same acquaintance says it is in her Government textbook.  I wrote Jack Rakove, a Pulitzer Prize winning, named Chair seated Professor of History and Political Science at Stanford University.  After saying the language sounds wrong, and doubting that it is real, he continues...

Is it close to anything Madison might have said? If you read some of his letters from his retirement period (1817-36), you'll find him not infrequently glossing particular clauses in terms of what was actually under discussion at Philadelphia. And as I argue in my book, JM was an originalist--if not in 1787-1788, then at least by 1796. So you could probably make a plausible case that the underlying sentiment has some consistency with his conception of interpretation, even if this formula does not sound like the way he would put it.

     He then asks me to write John DiIulio, a Democrat and the head of Bush's Office of Faith Based Initiatives, and the subject of the revealing interview by Ron Suskind which was based on this e-mail.

     Does anyone know DiIulio's e-mail address, to find out how he got this quote in his book on Government?  It is cited in many court cases, and all over the web, besides.

     Sounds to me like something an Antonin Scalia fan wrote.

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