De-Schooling Constitutional Law



For more than two centuries, constitutional law has been created by a dialogue between generations. As newcomers displace their predecessors, they begin to challenge parts of the legacy they have inherited while cherishing other elements of their tradition. The dynamic of challenge-and-preservation leads to an ongoing effort at synthesis - leaving the next generation with a legacy that, once again, provokes another cycle of critique and transformation as parents and grandparents leave the constitutional stage. This Symposium begins a new round of reappraisal: Now that the civil rights generation is passing from the scene, how will the twenty-first century remember its predecessors' achievements? How did the Second Reconstruction of the twentieth century compare to the First Reconstruction of the nineteenth? These questions won't be resolved anytime soon. But the energy and insight of the Symposiasts testify to a continuing devotion to the project of popular self-government initiated at the Founding. To be sure, all participants are very privileged members of the academy. If popular sovereignty is to survive, it will require more than the commitment of an elite corps of legal scholars. But it is very important for each of us to look beyond our special insights and contribute to a larger dialogue that reaches beyond the academy to our fellow Americans. So what more can I contribute at this stage?