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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1994




University of Minnesota




I. INTRODUCTION: "AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM" There is an academic movement afoot-one with a long historical pedigree-to attribute the vitality of the American constitutional order to "American exceptionalism." The most prominent representative of this school of thought is Bruce Ackerman, whose We the People opens with a jeremiad against the "Europeanization" of American constitutional theory and urges us as Americans to "look inward" to rediscover our distinctive patterns, practices, and ideals.2 He maps the terrain of theory as being divided into monists ("Anglophiles"), rights foundationalists ("Germanophiles"), and dualists (red-blooded Americans).3 Only dualists have the "strength" to declare our American independence from British and German models and philosophers.4 Thus, as Sanford Levinson observes, Ackerman is reopening the question about "American exceptionalism" from Europe.



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