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Conducting the Constitution: Justice Scalia, Textualism, and the Eroica Symphony

Ian Gallacher

Syracuse University - College of Law

August 6, 2006

This article examines the three principle Constitutional interpretative approaches and compares them to similar interpretative doctrines used by musicians. In particular, it examines the theoretical underpinnings of Justice Scalia's "textualist" philosophy by trying to predict what results would obtain from application of that philosophy to a performance of the first movement of Beethoven's "Eroica" symphony.

The article does not declare the foundation of a new genre of legal hermeneutics, nor does it seek to announce a comprehensive interpretative framework that can solve problems of Constitutional or statutory interpretation. Rather, the article explores some fundamental principles of legal textual interpretation while, at the same time, avoiding the aggressive rhetoric and contentious social issues that can obscure the debate over textualism, the viability of a "Living Constitution" and the use of extra-textual information to aid in determining textual meaning.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 25

Keywords: Constitution, hermeneutics, interpretation

JEL Classification: K19, K39, K40

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Date posted: August 8, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Gallacher, Ian, Conducting the Constitution: Justice Scalia, Textualism, and the Eroica Symphony (August 6, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=922719 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.922719

Contact Information

Ian Gallacher (Contact Author)
Syracuse University - College of Law ( email )
Syracuse, NY 13244-1030
United States
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