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Article
Republican Revival/Interpretive Turn
Wisconsin Law Review (1992)
  • Stephen M. Feldman, University of Wyoming
Abstract
The civic republican revival and the interpretive turn are two leading movements in constitutional jurisprudence. Civic republicanism emphasizes that citizens belong to a political community where they participate in a dialogue about the common good. Interpretivism, meanwhile, holds that all of our practices, including constitutional adjudication, are interpretive; we are always situated within interpretative communities and traditions that simultaneously constrain and enable understanding. Civic republicanism and interpretivism, however, both face serious challenges. Critics of the republican revival charge that it invites oppression and silencing of divergent voices because it emphasizes the community and the common good. Opponents of the interpretive turn charge that it lacks the critical bite that we need to evaluate judicial decisions. Republicanism and interpretivism, though, can be synthesized into a single theory of constitutional jurisprudence and political action - republican interpretivism - that can withstand the charges being leveled against each independent theory. Republican interpretivism has critical bite because it focuses on the common good: a constitutional decision as well as any other political action should be evaluated by asking whether it promotes the common good. But the common good is not an objective foundation for constitutional adjudication or political action, but an interpretive concept. As such, its meaning, while determinate in concrete contexts, remains open to questioning and to dialogue.
Keywords
  • republican revival,
  • interpretivism,
  • civic republicanism,
  • constitutional adjudication
Disciplines
Publication Date
1992
Citation Information
Stephen M. Feldman. "Republican Revival/Interpretive Turn" Wisconsin Law Review Vol. 1992 (1992)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stephen_m_feldman/30/