Debate on the “Living” Constitution Monday
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
4:00 - 6:00 PM
RAYNOR MEMORIAL LIBRARY CONFERENCE ROOMS B AND C
“Is the (‘Living’?) Constitution a Sound Basis for Our Government Today?”
Gordon Hylton, Marquette Law School
John McAdams, Political Science
Jeffrey Sachse, Political Science
Christopher Wolfe, Political Science
Look for this to end up as a debate between McAdams and Wolfe on the one side, and Sachse and Hylton on the other. The issue: whether judges have a right to blow off the expectations of the Founders and interpret the Constitution to mean what they want it to mean.
[Update:] Our colleague, Chris Wolfe, says that Hylton, at least, is unfavorable toward judicial activism. We’ll see. It should be interesting anyway.
[Further Update:] This turned out to be less a debate than a discussion. (We were expecting a debate with clear liberal and conservative sides.) It also turned out to be quite interesting. We bashed judicial legislation, legitimated under the claim of a “Living Constitution.” Hylton insisted that “the Constitution” should be interpreted more as widely shared understandings than as a document written in ink on paper. Sachse talked about Woodrow Wilson, who was not only a U.S. president but also an important political scientist. Wolfe gave us some protective cover on the right, as he was not satisfied with our position that abortion and gay marriage should be decided by state legislatures. He seemed to believe that the U.S. Congress (or perhaps a national constitutional amendment) should outlaw both.
It really was fun, and our impression was that students went away thinking it had been worth the time.