Constitutional Communication

In 2005, before I was an academic, I started working on an article, now titled Constitutional Communication, about constitutional interpretation. I still have drafts of it dating back to 2006. I have even presented it a couple times over the last decade. I have worked on it throughout that time period, but was never satisfied with it. I’m happy (and relieved) to say that I finally have a completed draft that I have made publicly available. I welcome feedback. Here is the abstract:

Scholars from various normative and positive perspectives endorse the notion that the Constitution is communicative of its meaning. However, there has been little discussion as to what “communication” means in the constitutional context. This Article addresses the communication gap by introducing and applying communication-based concepts and models to constitutional theory. The results of the integration of communication theory into debates about constitutional interpretation are twofold. First, the account in this Article offers a richer framework and vocabulary for ongoing debates about interpretative theory and constitutional meaning. Second, the addition of communication concepts and norms into the debate about constitutional meaning points toward a new approach to interpretation: constitutional contextualism. This flexible approach contends that the constitutional provision being interpreted, and not a pre-selected universal theory, dictates the tools that should be used to analyze it. Significantly, this approach does not seek to negate the dominant theories of constitutional interpretation. In fact, the insights of various originalist and living constitutionalist theories are essential for selecting or synthesizing which interpretive methods are preferable in specific situations. By adopting a flexible, contextual, communication-based approach to identifying the best constitutional meaning in particular cases, we can end the growing fetishization of global interpretive theories and better adapt to the real-world needs of constitutional readers.

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