Modes of Constitutional Interpretation
The US Constitution leaves many basic questions of constitutional law unanswered, whether because they could not be anticipated or because the text is broadly worded or ambiguous.
Consequently, “Interpretation is necessary to determine the meaning of ambiguous provisions of the Constitution or to answer fundamental questions left unaddressed by the drafters,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service explains.
But there are different ways to perform such interpretation that may yield different results.
The new CRS report provides a helpful introduction to the most common “modes” of interpretation, including textualism, original meaning, judicial precedent, pragmatism, moral reasoning, national identity, structuralism, and historical practices.
Interpreting the Constitution is not a task left solely to the Supreme Court; it is also a responsibility of Members of Congress. “Members should vote upon legislation based on their own constitutional interpretations, which may be at odds with the Court’s,” wrote former Sen. Russ Feingold, but “they should not vote for legislation without any thought whatsoever regarding its constitutionality.”
See Modes of Constitutional Interpretation, March 15, 2018.
Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.
The U.S. Export Control System and the Export Control Reform Initiative, updated March 15, 2018
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), updated March 13, 2018
China-U.S. Trade Issues, updated March 14, 2018
Pass-Throughs, Corporations, and Small Businesses: A Look at Firm Size, updated March 15, 2018
Jurisdiction Stripping: When May Congress Prohibit the Courts from Hearing a Case?, CRS Legal Sidebar, March 15, 2018
Membership of the 115th Congress: A Profile, updated March 19, 2018
Women in Congress, 1917-2018: Service Dates and Committee Assignments by Member, and Lists by State and Congress, updated March 19, 2018
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons, and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
On 14 April 2023, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence released a short video of a Su-25 pilot explaining his new role in delivering “special [nuclear] munitions” following his training in Russia. The features seen in the video, as well as several other open-source clues, suggest that Lida Air Base––located only 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian border and the […]
A photo in a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) student briefing from 2022 shows four people inspecting what appears to be a damaged B61 nuclear bomb.
In early-February 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) had informed Congress that China now has more launchers for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) than the United States. The report is the latest in a serious of revelations over the past four years about China’s growing nuclear weapons arsenal and the deepening […]