Article Title

Toward a Reality-Based Constitutional Theory

Publication Title

Washington University Law Review Commentaries

Publication Date



Despite the alleged triumph of legal realism and the empirical turn of closely related fields such as judicial behavior, a startling number of constitutional theorists continue to approach their work as a purely conceptual enterprise. This is particularly true of originalists, but it is true of many others as well. Indeed, much of normative constitutional theory as it is presently practiced resembles a recreational debating society more than a serious effort to improve the functioning of a massively complex modern society. If constitutional theory is to live up to its aspirations, a new reality-based approach is urgently needed. This brief Article makes the case for such an approach and offers practical suggestions for getting it off the ground.

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