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We live with an eighteenth century constitution in a twenty-first century world. In many areas, we have managed to overcome the limits inherent in an anachronistic legal order through judicial interpretation and political accommodation. When the courts have resisted change too long, failing to adjust legal text to social and political reality, they have brought about crises that threatened the legitimacy of the entire constitutional order. This is the lesson of Scott v. Sandford and of judicial resistance to the New Deal. Alternatively, when judicial interpretations have been guided by a compelling moral vision, we have a sense of the grandeur of the American political mission to realize itself as a country under law. This is the lesson of Brown v. Board of Education, and of Reynolds v. Simms.
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