Formalism in Constitutional Theory

Constitutional Commentary, Forthcoming

3 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2016 Last revised: 29 Jul 2016

See all articles by Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: July 26, 2016


In law – and in many other social activities, including music, art, and literature – reasonable people can and do argue over the best conception of interpretation. Intended meaning is unquestionably one candidate, but there are others. To choose among plausible accounts of what interpretation entails, judges and lawyers need to think about the world and to look outward, rather than to pretend that definitions can solve the problem. They need to ask which approach would make our constitutional order better rather than worse.

Keywords: formalism, constitutional interpretation

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R., Formalism in Constitutional Theory (July 26, 2016). Constitutional Commentary, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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