Document Type


Publication Date



For as long as we have had a Constitution, we have been debating how to interpret it. With the conclusion of the Supreme Court's recent 2013 term and its handful of closely divided, hotly contested cases, we can rest safe in the assumption that, despite the notable uptick in unanimous decisions issued by the Court, the figurative "end of history" in constitutional interpretation, in which the major partisans in our annual Constitutional skirmishes lay down their arms and settle upon one particular interpretive lens through which to read the Constitution, is nowhere in sight. If Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, two of the Constitution's principal architects and leading spokesmen who co-authored The Federalist, could not later agree on the meaning of the words on the page to which they had signed their names, should we expect to do any better? But despite their deep disagreements over how to read the Constitution, Americans from across the spectrum still seem to revere the old musty document. In an era of increasing polarization and growing skepticism about many things official-Congress, the president, the Republican and Democratic parties, business corporations, even the Supreme Court, etc.- the Constitution remains, as it has throughout much of American history, a document that continues to pull powerfully on the heartstrings of citizens. Americans may hate politics, as the pundit E. J. Dionne has observed, and distrust their government, but they continue to love the governing document that structures our politics and organizes our government.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.