Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Living Constitution, Dying Faith: Progressivism and the New Science of Jurisprudence

Article excerpt

LIVING CONSTITUTION, DYING FAITH: PROGRESSIVISM AND THE NEW SCIENCE OF JURISPRUDENCE by Bradley CS. Watson ISI Books, 250 pages, $25

The Constitution is the focus of our national poUtical life, the trump card in our national poUcy debates. The poUtical party or position with the Constitution on its side wins. This fact, in large measure, explains why the debate over constitutional interpretation continues to rage. Different interpretative methodologies lead to variant constitutional meanings.

Bradley CS. Watson is a veteran of these debates. Watson, in his most recent foray into the area, Living Constitution, Dying Faith, argues that social Darwinism, coupled with phUosophical pragmatism, created the progressive movement, in both its inteUectual and poUtical guises. In turn, progressive legal theory challenged and then ecUpsed the received theory of constitutional interpretation. That is why, today, the dominant dieory of constitutional interpretation focuses on the "Uving" or "organic" Constitution, often labeled "nonoriginahsm" in the legal academy.

According to Watson, progressive legal theory was initiaUy formulated in the early twentieth century by such scholars and judges as Dean Roscoe Pound and Justice Holmes. …

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