The Legal Significance of the Declaration of Independence

Book Forum
April 2, 2003
12:00PM to 1:30PM
Auditorium/Wintergarden
Featuring Scott Douglas Gerber, Editor, The Declaration of Independence: Origins and Impact, (CQ Press, 2002), Professor, Ohio Northern University ; with comments by Roger Pilon, Vice President for Legal Affairs, Director, Center for Constitutional Studies.
In his dissenting opinion in Troxel v. Granville (2000), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the Declaration of Independence “is not a legal prescription conferring powers upon the courts.” What then is the legal significance of the Declaration? Is it merely a revolutionary document, written to express the sentiments of the moment? Or is it, in its invocation of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” the font of American liberty, inseparable in both principle and practice from the Constitution? In a collection of essays by Harry Jaffa, Thomas G. West, John Eastman, and others, The Declaration of Independence: Origins and Impact explores the political theory of the Declaration, its connection to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and its place in the Supreme Court. Join us for a wide-ranging discussion of a document that Abraham Lincoln praised as the “apple of gold” without which the Constitution — the “picture of silver” — would tarnish.