The First State Constitutional Conventions, 1776-1783

W. F. Dodd
1908 American Political Science Review  
The distinction between constitutions and statutes is a fundamental one in American constitutional law, but it is a matter of surprise that no one has yet attempted to discuss this distinction in its historical origins. Brinton Coxe in hisJudicial Power and Unconstitutional Legislationhas traced the development of the doctrine that statutes in conflict with the constitution may be declared invalid by the courts. Judge J. A. Jameson in hisTreatise on Constitutional Conventionshas given a brief
more » ... has given a brief account of the adoption of the first State constitutions; but no one has yet studied the adoption of these constitutions in order to find what were the theories of their framers as to the distinction between constitutions and statutes.By the term constitution, as used both in England and America before the Revolution, was understood the general and more permanent principles upon which government is based. The term was used on both sides of the Atlantic to signify something superior to legislative enactments, and the principles of the constitution were appealed to as beyond the control of the British parliament.
doi:10.2307/1944479 fatcat:52bvukyjwfeqncfmwt6t2gufda