What Is a Loose Interpretation of the Constitution?

A loose interpretation, also called loose construction, means that any right not forbidden in the Constitution is granted to U.S. citizens. Alexander Hamilton believed in interpreting the Constitution in this way.

Thomas Jefferson believed in the opposite approach, interpreting the Constitution more strictly. Jefferson also believed in states’ rights, while Hamilton believed a strong central government was more important. Hamilton used this interpretation of the Constitution to establish the Federal Bank. That is, because the Constitution did not forbid it, Hamilton believed that he had the right to do so. Jefferson, on the other hand, thought establishing the bank was unconstitutional, as that right was not spelled out in the document.