It is certainly not surprising that America's Unwritten Constitution is remarkably stimulating, informative, and challenging. You are surely correct that one cannot possibly understand the American constitutional system simply by reading the text of the Constitution (or, for that matter, reading decisions of the judiciary ostensibly "interpreting" the text). Instead, one must not only look at long-established American practices but also at social movements and transcendent moments in American history-the Gettysburg Address and Martin Luther King's "Dream" speech are two that you emphasize-that have provided the rationales for how we understand those practices (and, on occasion, become willing to transform them). Your Constitution is necessarily a "living Constitution," for the American people, as active agents of their own constitutional destinies, are constantly debating one another about what constitutes its deep meanings; they constantly create new movements, which in turn generate new political leaders committed to particular understandings.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Amar, Akhil and Levinson, Sanford, "Book Review: What Do We Talk About When We Talk About the Constitution?" (2014). Faculty Scholarship Series. 5124.