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“Intratextualism,” 112 Harv. L. Rev. 747 (1999)


Interpreters squeeze meaning from the Constitution through a variety of techniques - by parsing the text of a given clause, by mining the Constitution's history, by deducing entailments of the institutional structure it outlines, by weighing the practicalities of proposed readings of it, by appealing to judicial cases decided under it, and by invoking the American ideals it embraces. Each of these classic techniques extracts meaning from some significant feature of the Constitution - its organization into distinct and carefully worded clauses, its embedment in history, its attention to institutional architecture, its plain aim to make good sense in the real world, its provision for judicial review (and thus judicial doctrine), and its effort to embody the ethos of the American people. Here is another feature of the Constitution: various words and phrases recur in the document. This feature gives interpreters yet another set of clues as they search for constitutional meaning and gives rise to yet another rich technique of constitutional interpretation. I call this technique intratextualism.

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