Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Say What?: “Constitutionality”

November 7, 2011 by Holly Munson


Image from Wikimedia Commons

Editor's Note: For the past 200-plus years, we the people have had a lot to say about the Constitution. In each installment of “Say What?” we offer a quick quote--be it wise, quirky, or otherwise memorable--from past or present conversation related to our favorite founding document.



“The judges of the supreme court of the United States have the power of determining the constitutionality of laws.”

Who said it

Noah Webster, in the entry for “constitutionality” in his American Dictionary of the English Language

The story

Webster, a contemporary and colleague of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and other Founding Fathers, envisioned a uniquely American culture; to achieve this, he sought to create a uniquely American vocabulary. With his seminal dictionary, Webster ingrained words like “constitutionality” into the language--and the consciousness--of Americans. (We also have Webster to thank for dropping the “u” in words like “honour” and “neighbour”.)

Holly Munson works in Public Programs at the National Constitution Center.

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