chapter  Seven
18 Pages

Constitutional Integrity and Compromise

WithKenneth Henley

The Constitution of the United States consists of a body of fundamental law rooted in a canonical text. Law as integrity interprets legal practice as proceeding from the community speaking with one voice, expressing a commitment to coherent principles. Ronald Dworkin's conception of constitutional integrity seems to share with the historicist, original intention approach the idea of the true Constitution, immune to real compromise of principle—though perhaps compromised in the actual political and judicial arena. Integrity rules out "internal compromises"—compromises within the scheme of justice adopted by the political community. Dworkin seems to offer only two alternatives within the interpretive conception he calls "law as integrity." The first alternative is a full-fledged interpretive commitment to bringing order to legal practice so that it can be perceived as the voice of a community of principle; this rules out all internal compromises. The second alternative is "internal skepticism," denying that legal practice can be seen as coherent and worthy.