It was a pleasant surprise to learn that Harvey Mansfield's latest "Conversation with Bill Kristol" is a discussion of his wonderful 1993 book, America's Constitutional Soul. But I was all the more pleased to tune in and discover how Kristol begins their discussion: by comparing America's Constitutional Soul to the headline of my article on the late Justice Scalia: "The American Constitutionalist."

I thought today we would talk about constitutionalism, something you've written on. A book of your essays is called–I assume that was your choice–America's Constitutional Soul. And we were reminded of the Constitution with the recent death of Justice Nino Scalia. The piece we had in THE WEEKLY STANDAD on it was entitled—one of the pieces—"The American Constitutionalist."

I'm so glad that Kristol noticed the resemblance, because it wasn't coincidental. Back in February, when I proposed this headline to the STANDARD's editors, I meant it in part as a quiet homage to Mansfield's book.

Of course, when I offered "The American Constitutionalist," I did so first and foremost with Justice Scalia in mind—and with special emphasis on both "American" and "constitutionalist." As I wrote at the time, Justice Scalia's great victory was a generational one, returning courts' and politicians' focus back to the separation of powers, constitutional text, and the judicial branch's limited role in the broader American constitutional system. Scalia was a constitutionalist, but he was an emphatically American constitutionalist, because he was deeply attuned to the constitutionalism of our founding fathers, a modern return to the lessons of James Madison's and Alexander Hamilton's Federalist.

When I think of Scalia's intellectual peers, I think less of judges, lawyers, or law professors, than of the great late 20th century scholars who thought and wrote of constitutionalism in less Court-centric terms—including some with whom Scalia worked at the American Enterprise Institute, the exile of the Carter cdministration. To name a few greats: Martin Diamond, Walter Berns, Harry Jaffa (of Crisis of the House Divided more than Jaffa's later works), and Harvey Mansfield.

And so I think, in turn, of Mansfield's wonderful book, America's Constitutional Soul, a book of essays far more compelling and interesting than what one reads in today's legal journals. Mansfield, like Scalia, writes of American constitutionalism like Madison or Hamilton did. This book presents a series of essays—on political elections and constitutional government, on modern political science, on religious liberty; on separation of powers—that culminates with the title essay, a meditation on the Federalist's republicanism versus mere democracy, and the ceaseless challenge of sustaining the republican virtue necessary for self-government.

Mansfield's book would sit well on our shelves next to a collection of Scalia's finest opinions: on separation of powers, his dissent in Morrison v. Olson; on virtue, his dissent in the VMI co-education case, United States v. Virginia; on religion and republican government, his opinion for the Court in Employment Division v. Smith; and on the Court's properly limited role in American government, his dissents in Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Obergefell v. Hodges.

I don't presume that Scalia would have agreed with Mansfield on everything, or vice versa. But I don't hesitate to recognize that they were two of a very special kind.

Adam J. White is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.