Chapter

Constitutional Interpretation

Mark A. Graber

in A New Introduction to American Constitutionalism

Published in print November 2013 | ISBN: 9780199943883
Published online January 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199369799 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199943883.003.0004
Constitutional Interpretation

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The processes by which constitutional meanings are determined raise normative and empirical questions. The normative questions are about the best methods for ascertaining the meaning of constitutional provisions. Justices, elected officials, and citizens dispute whether constitutional provisions should be interpreted consistently with the meaning of the text at the time the text was ratified, how one determines the meaning of the text at the time of ratification, and what was the meaning of particular constitutional texts at the time of ratification. The empirical questions are about whether persons when determining constitutional meanings actually rely on legitimate methods of constitutional interpretation or construction. Very prominent political scientists insist that constitutional decision-makers are interested only in making good policy. Constitutional arguments, in this view, mask conclusions reached on other grounds.

Keywords: Originalism; Aspirationalism; Textualism; Doctrinalism; Attitudinal model; Strategic model; Legal model; Historical–institutionalism

Chapter.  14275 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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