The Theological Framework of American Codification

Kellen Funk
Histories of the American debates over codifying the common law uncritically treat nineteenthcenturycodifiers as the forerunners of modern statutory supremacy. What these accounts miss is thepervasive religious rhetoric and theology underlying the codification debates. American codifiersuniversally adopted a liberal Protestant approach to the perspicuity of texts and the unmediatedauthority of individual interpreters that was common to their time (features that distinguishedAmerican
more » ... from similar efforts in England and Europe). They were rebuffed by commonlaw lawyers who emphasized the inherent slipperiness of language and the need for authoritativecommunities of interpreters, critiques that appear prescient today despite the conventional caricatureof common law lawyers as antimodern formalists.
doi:10.17605/ fatcat:sw2mq45zurb3ddpq2pmzdpfbxu