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Did backlash to judicial decisions play a destructive role in debates over same-sex marriage, as was so often claimed? This Article questions assumptions about consensus and constitutionalism that undergird claims about judicial backlash, and explores some constructive functions of conflict in our constitutional order.
The debate over same-sex marriage illustrates that conflict, constrained by constitutional culture, can forge meanings and bonds that strengthen the constitutional order. Constitutional culture, on this account, includes the understandings about role that guide interactions among citizens and officials who disagree about the Constitution's meaning. Analyzing the long-running conflict over same-sex marriage with attention to these role-based understandings leads us differently to evaluate the power and limits of judicial review.
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