Radicals in Tweed Jackets: Why Extreme Left-Wing Law Professors are Wrong for America

25 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2006

See all articles by Saikrishna Prakash

Saikrishna Prakash

University of Virginia School of Law


This review essay assesses Cass Sunstein's new book "Radicals in Robes." After summarizing the book, this review essay considers the merits of Sunstein's minimalism, why Sunstein favors it, and the depth of his commitment to it. Then the review considers whether the meaning of words ought to turn on the consequences of that meaning, as Sunstein implicitly argues. The review maintains that documents and utterances mean things without regard to what someone else might or might not do with the documents or utterances. When it comes to meaning, the consequences do not matter. Finally, the review explains that originalism provides no argument (indeed can provide no argument) for following a document's meaning. Originalism is merely a means of making sense of text. The reasons for treating some document as law (as opposed to others) have absolutely nothing to do with originalism as a theory of interpretation. Indeed, these reasons have nothing to do with interpretation at all. Whether we treat a particular text as binding upon us is a question of morality and politics.

Keywords: constitution, interpretation, minimalism, originalism

JEL Classification: K1, K10

Suggested Citation

Prakash, Saikrishna, Radicals in Tweed Jackets: Why Extreme Left-Wing Law Professors are Wrong for America. Columbia Law Review, December 2006, San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-52, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=921740

Saikrishna Prakash (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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