Ronald Dworkin famously argued that fidelity in interpreting the Constitution as written calls for a fusion of constitutional law and moral philosophy. Barber and Fleming take up that call, arguing for a philosophic approach to constitutional interpretation. In doing so, they systematically critique the competing approaches - textualism, consensualism, originalism, structuralism, doctrinalism, minimalism, and pragmatism - that aim and claim to avoid a philosophic approach. Constitutional Interpretation: The Basic Questions illustrates that these approaches cannot avoid philosophic reflection and choice in interpreting the Constitution. Barber and Fleming contend that fidelity in constitutional interpretation requires a fusion of philosophic and other approaches, properly understood. Within such a fusion, interpreters would begin to think of text, consensus, intentions, structures, and doctrines not as alternatives to, but as sites of philosophic reflection about the best understanding of our constitutional commitments. Constitutional Interpretation: The Basic Questions examines the fundamental inquiries that arise in interpreting constitutional law. In doing so, the authors survey the controversial and intriguing questions that have stirred constitutional debate in the United States for over two centuries, such as: how and for what ends should governmental institutions and powers be arranged; what does the Constitution mean under general circumstances and how should it be interpreted during concrete controversies; and finally how do we decide what our constitution means and who ultimately decides its meaning.
This is a revised and extensively rewritten edition of one of the most influential monographs on legal philosophy published in recent years. Writing in the introduction to the first edition the author characterized Anglophone philosophers as being ..."divided, and often waver[ing] between two main philosophical objectives: the moral evaluation of law and legal institutions, and an account of its actual nature." Questions of methodology have therefore tended to be sidelined, but were bound to surface sooner or later, as they have in the later work of Ronald Dworkin. The main purpose of this book is to provide a critical assessment of Dworkin's methodological turn, away from analytical jurisprudence towards a theory of interpretation, and the issues it gives rise to. The author argues that the importance of Dworkin's interpretative turn is not that it provides a substitute for 'semantic theories of law' (a dubious concept), but that it provides a new conception of jurisprudence, aiming to present itself as a comprehensive rival to the conventionalism manifest in legal positivism. Furthermore, once the interpretative turn is regarded as an overall challenge to conventionalism, it is easier to see why it does not confine itself to a critique of method. Law as interpretation calls into question the main tenets of its positivist rival, in substance as well as method. The book re-examines conventionalism in the light of this interpretative challenge.
A course on constitutional law and civil liberties can be and is nothing less than an extended inquiry into the meaning of America. American Constitutional Law: Volume 1 Governmental Powers and Democracy, newly revised by Donald P. Kommers, John E. Finn, and Gary J. Jacobsohn, is a casebook made for such an inquiry. True to the liberal arts tradition from which it emerges, it goes beyond the facts and rulings of the great cases in American constitutional law to engage important issues of political theory and the nature of our constitutional democracy. Although the focus is on American constitutional law, Kommers, Finn, and Jacobsohn break new ground by incorporating comparative materials that enrich the study of the American Constitution by challenging the reader to assess American constitutional values in light of other traditions and understandings of constitutional governance. In an era of constitutional globalization, this new edition of a distinguished text is essential to an appreciation of tradition and diversity.Volume 1 focuses on governmental structures and relationships and includes a new chapter on elections and political representation.
America's Original Contribution to Religious Liberty
Author: T. Jeremy Gunn
Publisher: Oxford University Press
The First Amendment guarantee that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" rejected the millennium-old Western policy of supporting one form of Christianity in each nation and subjugating all other faiths. The exact meaning and application of this American innovation, however, has always proved elusive. Individual states found it difficult to remove traditional laws that controlled religious doctrine, liturgy, and church life, and that discriminated against unpopular religions. They found it even harder to decide more subtle legal questions that continue to divide Americans today: Did the constitution prohibit governmental support for religion altogether, or just preferential support for some religions over others? Did it require that government remove Sabbath, blasphemy, and oath-taking laws, or could they now be justified on other grounds? Did it mean the removal of religious texts, symbols, and ceremonies from public documents and government lands, or could a democratic government represent these in ever more inclusive ways? These twelve essays stake out strong and sometimes competing positions on what "no establishment of religion" meant to the American founders and to subsequent generations of Americans, and what it might mean today.
Fleming and McClain defend a civic liberalism that takes seriously not just rights but responsibilities and virtues. Issues taken up include same-sex marriage, reproductive freedom, regulation of civil society and the family, education of children, and clashes between First Amendment freedoms of association and religion and antidiscrimination law.
The decade after 11 September 2001 saw the enactment of counter-terrorism laws around the world. These laws challenged assumptions about public institutions, human rights and constitutional law. Those challenges are particularly apparent in the context of the increased surveillance powers granted to many law enforcement and intelligence agencies. This book brings together leading legal scholars in the field of counter-terrorism and constitutional law, and focuses their attention on the issue of surveillance. The breadth of topics covered in this collection include: the growth and diversification of mechanisms of mass surveillance, the challenges that technological developments pose for constitutionalism, new actors in the surveillance state (such as local communities and private organisations), the use of surveillance material as evidence in court, and the effectiveness of constitutional and other forms of review of surveillance powers. The book brings a strong legal focus to the debate surrounding surveillance and counter-terrorism, and draws important conclusions about the constitutional implications of the expansion of surveillance powers after 9/11.
In Federalism and Subsidiarity, a distinguished interdisciplinary group of scholars in political science, law, and philosophy address the application and interaction of the concept of federalism within law and government. What are the best justifications for and conceptions of federalism? What are the most useful criteria for deciding what powers should be allocated to national governments and what powers reserved to state or provincial governments? What are the implications of the principle of subsidiarity for such questions? What should be the constitutional standing of cities in federations? Do we need to “remap” federalism to reckon with the emergence of translocal and transnational organizations with porous boundaries that are not reflected in traditional jurisdictional conceptions? Examining these questions and more, this latest installation in the NOMOS series sheds new light on the allocation of power within federations.
In recent years, some have asked "Are we all originalists now?" and many have assumed that originalists have a monopoly on concern for fidelity in constitutional interpretation. In Fidelity to Our Imperfect Constitution, James Fleming rejects originalisms-whether old or new, concrete or abstract, living or dead. Instead, he defends what Ronald Dworkin called a "moral reading" of the United States Constitution, or a "philosophic approach" to constitutional interpretation. He refers to conceptions of the Constitution as embodying abstract moral and political principles-not codifying concrete historical rules or practices-and of interpretation of those principles as requiring normative judgments about how they are best understood-not merely historical research to discover relatively specific original meanings. Through examining the spectacular concessions that originalists have made to their critics, he shows the extent to which even they acknowledge the need to make normative judgments in constitutional interpretation. Fleming argues that fidelity in interpreting the Constitution as written requires a moral reading or philosophic approach. Fidelity commits us to honoring our aspirational principles, not following the relatively specific original meanings (or original expected applications) of the founders. Originalists would enshrine an imperfect Constitution that does not deserve our fidelity. Only a moral reading or philosophic approach, which aspires to interpret our imperfect Constitution so as to make it the best it can be, gives us hope of interpreting it in a manner that may deserve our fidelity.