Jack Balkin’s Constitutional Faith

11 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2013 Last revised: 10 Apr 2016

See all articles by Roger Cotterrell

Roger Cotterrell

Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

Date Written: April 4, 2013

Abstract

This paper is a review of two books by Jack M. Balkin on the United States Constitution, the interpretive practices that surround it, and its place in American culture. The paper offers a commentary ‘from abroad’ on Balkin’s sophisticated perspective on the Constitution in its cultural context and in American political life; it focuses in particular on his discussion of the possibilities and problems of maintaining a popular faith in and a professional commitment to the Constitution as the fundamental underpinning of the American polity. Balkin highlights the intensely quasi-religious aura that often surrounds the US Constitution – a phenomenon that, to foreign observers, often seems hard to understand. This commentary applauds Balkin’s emphasis on cultural bases of law but queries how far the religious analogies of redemption that he uses to reinterpret constitutional faith in a critical yet affirmative way, can offer a secure foundation and reliable guidance for constitutional practice to meet an uncertain political future.

Keywords: United States Constitution; constitutional culture; constitutional interpretation; constitutional faith; political legitimacy; popular sovereignty, legal profession, public opinion.

Suggested Citation

Cotterrell, Roger, Jack Balkin’s Constitutional Faith (April 4, 2013). Public Law, pp. 443-9, 2013, Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 137/2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2244767

Roger Cotterrell (Contact Author)

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