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Foreword: Contextualizing the Debate between Originalism and the Living Constitution

12 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2012  

Miguel Schor

Drake University Law School

Date Written: October 21, 2012


One of the most important contemporary constitutional debates is whether the meaning of the Constitution may evolve in light of current circumstances, or whether the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with how the text was understood by the public that ratified it. The 2011 Drake Constitutional Law Center Symposium addressed this debate by examining Professor David Strauss’s The Living Constitution, which argues the Constitution should be interpreted as a living document using the techniques of the common law. The participants included Keith Whittington, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, Princeton University; Rebecca Brown, the Newton Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Southern California; and Will Waluchow, the Senator William McMaster Chair in Constitutional Studies, McMaster University.

This foreword is divided into two parts. Part II briefly contextualizes the debate temporally and spatially. Oddly, scholars have largely ignored the societal and historical context of the debate as well as whether Americans might learn from how constitutional courts abroad deal with analogous interpretive problems. Intellectual debates do not occur in a vacuum, however, but are shaped by wider social and political struggles. Part III summarizes the superb papers presented at the symposium.

Keywords: Constitutional Theory, Originalism, Living Constitution, Comparative Constitutionalism

Suggested Citation

Schor, Miguel, Foreword: Contextualizing the Debate between Originalism and the Living Constitution (October 21, 2012). Drake Law Review, Vol. 59, pp. 961-72, 2011; Drake University Law School Research Paper No. 12-29. Available at SSRN:

Miguel Schor (Contact Author)

Drake University Law School ( email )

2621 Carpenter Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50311
United States

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