Constitutional Theory is at the center of legal and political debates in the United States. In recent decades, legal scholars and politicians alike increasingly treat their respective theories of interpretation as articles as faith. From originalism, to textualism, to treating the constitution as a “living document,” many contend that their theory is better than the others and offers the most suitable answers to raging constitutional debates. This paper tests that popular convention by examining how the Constitution was written, and whether there is indeed any one way to interpret it. I will then compare and contrast two dominant theories of interpretation; Originalism and Legal Pragmatism to show their strengths and weaknesses. Further, I will examine four landmark Supreme Court cases to outline examples of where both theories got it right and wrong. This analysis will reveal that both theories lead to destructive results when presiding judges ignore important political realities of their day and rule based on ideological or theoretical leanings. Conversely, it will show that both theories lead to constructive results when the presiding judges take political realties into account and consider the consequences of their rulings. Thus, the main argument of this paper is that political realities should never be divorced from judicial rulings. This analysis will also show that the political process is integral to sound jurisprudence, and that the constitutional framers left room for this in the way they wrote our most sacred document.
"Constitutional Theory & The Political Process,"
Pepperdine Policy Review: Vol. 11
, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/ppr/vol11/iss1/8