Reading the Constitution.

Essay by Satisfxn November 2003

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In their essay, "How Not to Read the Constitution", Lawrence Tribe and Michael Dorf describe the ways the Constitution has been interpreted by different people. Tribe and Dorf make it clear that the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted based on what the framers original intent was is not the way to read the Constitution, it takes much more than that. Tribe and Dorf also explain that justices do not interpret the Constitution in a way that would please the readers (the people) on purpose, because if that were so then the authority of the Constitution would "lose all legitimacy if it really were only a mirror for the readers' ideals and ideas (p.49)." This means that people have the tendency to interpret the Constitution based on their own beliefs. Also, the justices themselves have their own beliefs and their own interpretations of the Constitution, but they should not come up with a decision based solely on their own opinions.

The exact way to read the Constitution is indefinable, therefore in their essay, Tribe and Dorf instead described how not to interpret it and implied that justices should make wise decisions that are not entirely based on their own beliefs, the original intents of the framers made generations ago, or the expectations of the public now.

In the case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, Planned Parenthood was challenging a Pennsylvania law that placed some restrictions on abortion. Many opponents of abortion hoped that the Supreme Court would use the case to strike down the decision made in Roe v. Wade, which states that a state ban on all abortions is unconstitutional. The majority of the court voted not to do so. This is a good case for providing insight into the way justices interpret the constitution...