Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

“The Rebirth of American Constitutionalism”

On Monday, September 25, my friends at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University will host an all-day conference devoted to the scholarly legacy of two giants in the study of the American founding who both died 40 years ago.  Martin Diamond and Herbert J. Storing, friends who were both students of Leo Strauss, were pioneers in the field of political philosophy, responsible (along with colleagues such as Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, Ralph Lerner, and Harvey Mansfield) for resurrecting the serious study of American political thought in American political science departments.  (I did not study under any of the men just named, but my teachers were their colleagues and students.)

Diamond was the preeminent scholar of The Federalist of his generation, while Storing was almost singlehandedly responsible for bringing the thought of the Anti-Federalists to the center of our attention.  Their books and essays continue to repay careful study to this day.  Both men died far too young in 1977 (Diamond in July at age 57, Storing in September at just 49), but their students were many and their influence wide and deep.  The Princeton conference, “The Rebirth of American Constitutionalism: The Political Thought of Martin Diamond and Herbert Storing,” promises to be a very interesting exploration of their thought and legacy.


Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

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