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3 Pages

Introduction to Part Three

ByKenneth Kipnis

Like the Bible, the plays of Shakespeare, and Plato's Republic, the United States Constitution stands as a canonical text at the root of an interpretive tradition. This responsibility to settle constitutional controversies has engendered many thousands of volumes of judicial opinions and scholarly commentary, all interpreting provisions of the Constitution against the differing backgrounds of cases arising over a two hundred year period. On the other side are the nonpositivist noninterpretivists—like Michael Perry—who appeal to extraconstitutional values to map a natural law approach to adjudication. Stephen M. Griffin, in "Toward a Public Values Philosophy of the Constitution," endorses what he calls a "neorepublican" philosophy in contrast to "democratic relativism." Accordingly, just as Supreme Court decisions can be overturned by the popular initiative of amendment, so constitutional interpretation can properly reflect an expressed popular consensus. Constitutional scholarship should therefore be addressed, in part, to the general public.