The Obama-Tribe 'Curvature of Constitutional Space' Paper is Crackpot Physics

45 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2008 Last revised: 27 Oct 2008

Date Written: September 20, 2008


The Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe published a paper entitled "The Curvature of Constitutional Space," wherein he argued that the strict constructionist interpretations of the U.S. Constitution were obsolete, being based on a Newtonian world-view, and need to be replaced by a more modern relativistic and quantum mechanical world-view. I shall show on the contrary that in using general relativity and quantum mechanics, we have never left the Newtonian world-view. It was shown in 1923 by the greatest geometer of the twentieth century, Elie Cartan, that in Newtonian theory, gravity is curvature just as it is in general relativity. The greatest twentieth century theoretical physicist in Poland, Andrzej Trautman, showed in 1966 that the equations of general relativity are mathematically equivalent to Newtonian gravitational field equations interacting with the luminiferous ether. Physics Nobel Prize winner Lev Landau showed in the 1930's that the Schrodinger equation, the basic equation of quantum mechanics, is a special case of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, proven in 1837 to be the most powerful formulation of Newtonian mechanics. Erwin Schrodinger himself proved that his equation had nothing to do with probabilities or fundamental uncertainties. Since it was demonstrated mathematically decades ago that twentieth century physics is Newtonian mechanics, then by Laurence Tribe's own argument, it follows that all objections to strict constructionism are without merit. Tribe's physics is not post-Newtonian but pre-Newtonian, the physics of Aristotle, in which the arbitrary will of the powerful is the dominant influence in reality. Tribe's politics is, like his physics, profoundly reactionary, replacing unalterable law with the ever changing personal preferences of judges. As I shall demonstrate, the recent Boumedienne vs. Bush decision is a particularly egregious example of such replacement. Furthermore, Tribe's main books on Constitutional law are adversely influenced by his bad physics.

Keywords: Tribe, physics, curvature, space, quantum mechanics, relativity, constitutional law, Obama

JEL Classification: K11, K41, A12, B30

Suggested Citation

Tipler, Frank J., The Obama-Tribe 'Curvature of Constitutional Space' Paper is Crackpot Physics (September 20, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Frank J. Tipler (Contact Author)

Tulane University ( email )

6823 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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