The study of constitutional law clearly presupposes a theory of interpretation. All too often, however, these theories of constitutional interpretation are unidimensional in that they view constitutional law as a unitary thing. This essay examines some of the Supreme Court's constitutional law decisions during the 1991–1992 term for the purpose of exploring the idea of constitutional interpretation. Part I presents in some detail the understanding of constitutional law as integrity, tradition, and text. Part II focuses on those constitutional decisions dealing with the structure of government and the operation of the political economy. The argument in Part II is that the problems raised in this area of constitutional doctrine are best explained by interpreting the Constitution as text. Part III examines the Court's decisions on criminal procedure and the rights of criminal defendants. The argument in Part II is that the problems the Court addresses in the criminal area of constitutional doctrine are largely those raised by an understanding of the Constitution as integrity. However, integrity does not account for all of the decisions, for the reason that the Court is now engaged in a struggle as to whether integrity or tradition will be adopted as the predominant interpretive mode in the constitutional domain of criminal procedure and the rights of criminal defendants. Finally, Part IV looks at the Court's decisions on individual rights. The argument in Part IV is that the problems faced by the Court in this doctrinal domain are increasingly those found in the Constitution as it is embodies a historical tradition.
Richard A. Champagne Jr.,
The Problem of Integrity, Tradition, and Text in Constitutional Interpretation,
72 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol72/iss1/3