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The meaning of consensus Print E-mail
By John Courtney Murray   
Tuesday, 03 June 2014

It has been pointed out to me more than once, in discussions of the American consensus, that the word is misleading. In current speech, connotations have clustered round the word that form a barrier to an understanding of its classic sense. . . . Today, of course, the word is often taken to mean simply “majority opinion.” . . .These usages, however valid elsewhere, are departures from the technical constitutional sense that the word bears in the Western tradition. . . .The validity of the consensus is radically independent of its possible status as either majority or minority opinion. Moreover, the Declaration of Independence did not hazard the conjecture, “This is the convergent trend of opinion among us....” It made the affirmation: “We hold these truths. . . .” Or in the equivalent formula: “This is the public consensus.”

 

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