Dworkin's 'Originalism': The Role of Intentions in Constitutional Interpretation
Keith E. Whittington
Princeton University - Department of Politics
Review of Politics, Vol. 62, Spring 2000
Ronald Dworkin has criticized traditional theories of constitutional original intent by arguing that the constitutional text embodies multiple layers of intention. Abstract principles are among these layers of constitutional intent, and those principles should be the primary focus of a method of constitutional interpretation concerned with fidelity to the Constitution and the intentions of the Founders. This article argues that Dworkin's reconceptualization of originalism is theoretically flawed. It may be possible to construct a normative theory requiring that the judiciary always enforce abstract constitutional principles in accord with current substantive ideals. Such a theory, however, cannot be reconciled with or be required by an originalist interpretive method primarily committed to fidelity to founding intent.
Note: This is a description of the paper and not the actual abstract.
JEL Classification: K1Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: November 14, 2000
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