This article discusses why the recent proposal to eliminate estate and gift taxes is not only immoral and a poor allocation of resources, but also is unconstitutional. The author argues that the only way to sustain any allegation of unconstitutionality against these tax policy changes is to extend meanings of "constitutionality" beyond the legalistic paradigm of constitutional adjudication. Explaining that to extend notions of constitutionality this additional distance, we would need to resurrect earlier constitutional conceptions from such influential political thinkers as Aristotle, David Hume, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. While pointing out that the United States Constitution embodies a blend of particular economic theories, ranging from Madison's primary goal of protecting the rich to Benjamin Franklin’s more egalitarian and democratic vision.


Symposium: The Death of the Death Tax