Constitutionalism insists that those who exercise governmental powers are limited by natural rights and the rule of law. As James Madison taught, the separation of powers, checks and balances, and limited government are the lifeblood of American constitutionalism, protecting our natural rights and liberties.
Yet today, all three branches of our government struggle to conform to constitutionalist principles, populism is on the rise across the political spectrum, and the reasoned discourse that Madison thought essential to republican government is threatened by ideologically siloed media, widespread ignorance of civics, and pervasive mistrust of facts and reasoned discourse.
The National Constitution Center proposes to establish an Institute for the Study of Constitutionalism. The Institute will resurrect American constitutionalism today by restoring Madisonian principles to the center of public discourse, asking how these principles are faring, how we can preserve them in our own generation, and how we can convey their importance to the generations to come. To answer these Big Questions, the Institute will engage cultural influencers such as thought leaders, journalists, teachers, and lawmakers in balanced, rigorous constitutional conversations. It will generate balanced constitutional content in the form of papers, conferences, debates, podcasts, classroom tools, and teacher workshops. The influencers will incorporate this content into their public-facing work, transmitting it to Americans of all ages and on all media platforms, by leveraging key partnerships.
By adhering to a respectful, truth-seeking process that ensures balance, the Institute will overcome mistrust, and restore civil dialogue in a divided and polarized age. By resurrecting constitutionalism, the Institute will inspire all Americans to cherish and defend the principles that protect us from tyranny, safeguard our civil and economic liberties, and foster a free and prosperous society.