Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Brigham Young University Law Review


Federalist, constitutional adjudication, Supreme Court, constitutional history, Charles Beard


In interpreting the Constitution the Supreme Court has increasingly referred to The Federalist papers, a series of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay during the struggle to ratify the Constitution. This article describes in narrative form how the Court has incorporated The Federalist into its opinions, and summarizes how constitutional historians and political scientists have evaluated The Federalist and the Constitution. This format highlights the limited nature of the Court's historical inquiry by demonstrating that the Court and constitutional scholars have been traveling in parallel universes. Either the Court has ignored or been unaware of the fruits of these scholars' research, thus limiting its selection of scholars to those who have admired The Federalist, or the Court has formulated and presented historical impressions based upon uncited sources not subject to evaluation.