Article excerpt

Constitutional interpretation, like the interpretation of any legal text, involves an ongoing conversation among bench, bar, and academy. Lawyers and judges participate by applying the law to particular sets of facts in the course of arguing and deciding cases. Their work provides source material for academics, who can step back from the fray of litigation and place judicial opinions in context, discovering their implications, analyzing their reasoning, and suggesting elaboration or modification. Their work, in turn, helps lawyers and judges make better arguments and craft better decisions in the next case. And so on. From this dialogue emerges law that is better able to deal with the human problems of those whom the Constitution was written to serve.

With America's Constitution: A Biography and Revolution by Judiciary, Akhil Amar and Jed Rubenfeld have made valuable and much needed contributions to this conversation. Each picks up a different thread of the discussion. Amar returns our attention to the text of the document. …