Justice and American Constitutionalism

Professor Russell Hittinger has an excellent lecture on American Constitutionalism available here. I have way too much time on my hands and decided to transcribe it so I could study it in parts. I suggest listening to the entire lecture if you have a chance. If you don't have the time, I am going to post particularly engaging segments of the lecture here for future reference. He begins this erudite discussion on the Constitution by defining that most elusive and controversial term, justice.
And I want to begin by giving you one of the most ancient definitions in Western Law, which is the definition of justice. This definition goes as far back as the 5th century BC in Rome. When called upon to define what justice is, the Roman lawyer said, “justice is giving to each what is his right.” And the way the Roman lawyers thought about this, it is very common-sensical – until someone can claim, that this is owed to me, or to him, or to them, there is simply no issue of justice. In matters of justice there can be no act of giving what is due to someone, unless there is first something to be given. We have to find something to give – property, obedience, due process, non-interference in acts of religious worship, whatever. But until we can locate something to give, and that we are obligated to give to another person, all issues of justice are moot. In fact, for there to be justice, at least three conditions have to be met. First, we have to know what it is that we owe to someone else. Second, we have to know who should receive it. Third, we have to know who should give it. And if we’re ever confused about any three of those – the thing to be given, the person who’s supposed to give it, or the person who’s supposed to receive it, we really are confused about justice. So – who owes what to whom? This is the fundamental question.

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