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14 Cardozo Law Review 767 (1993)


I am a judge. For me, a constitution is an operational document. I decide cases by extracting meaning from its text. The process of extracting meaning from the text of the constitution, as with any document, is the process of interpretation, and so the question presented to me is: How do you interpret a constitution? It is not an answer to say "Words have no meaning; do whatever you think politically expedient." Words do have meaning. A cigarette is not an elephant. I am a judge, not a politician. I do not have a political agenda; I do not represent a constituency. It is not my role, nor do I desire, to impose my subjective will on the polity. I am required to act judiciously, objectively, consistently, coherently. It is no answer to me to advise, "Think and act prudently, pragmatically, reasonably." What does "prudently" mean? When am I acting "pragmatically"?

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