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69 Fordham L. Rev. 2269 (2000-2001)
Natural Law, the Constitution, and the Theory and Practice of Judicial Review

handle is hein.journals/flr69 and id is 2289 raw text is: COLLOQUIUM

Robert P. George*
The concept of natural law is central to the western tradition of
thought about morality, politics, and law. Although the western
tradition is not united around a single theoretical account of natural
law, its principal architects and leading spokesmen-from Aristotle
and Thomas Aquinas to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King-
have shared a fundamental belief that humanly created positive law
is morally good or bad-just or unjust-depending on its conformity
to the standards of a natural, (viz., moral) law that is no mere
human creation. The natural law is, thus, a higher law, albeit a law
that is in principle accessible to human reason and not dependent on
(though entirely compatible with and, indeed, illumined by) divine
revelation.' Saint Paul, for example, refers to a law written on [the]
heart[] which informs the consciences of even the Gentiles who do
not have the revealed law of Moses to guide them.2 Many centuries
later, Thomas Jefferson appeals to the Laws of Nature and of
Nature's God in justifying the American Revolution.'
Most modern commentators agree that the American founders
were firm believers in natural law and sought to craft a constitution
that would conform to its requirements, as they understood them, and
embody its basic principles for the design of a just political order. The
framers of the Constitution sought to create institutions and
* McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison
Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University. Professor George
gave a version of this Article as the inaugural lecture in Fordham's Natural Law
Colloquium, which is dedicated to encouraging reflection upon the natural law
tradition in law, politics, and civic discourse. The Colloquium is jointly sponsored by
the School of Law and the Department of Philosophy.
1. See Robert P. George, Natural Law Ethics, in A Companion to the Philosophy
of Religion 453-65 (Philip L. Quinn & Charles Taliaferro eds., 1997).
2. 2 Romans 14:15.
3. The Declaration of Independence para. 1 (U.S. 1776).


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