Why Constitutional Meaning is not Necessarily Fixed - A Reply to Solum

Problema. Anuario de Filosofía y Teoria Del Derecho 1 (11) (2017)
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Abstract:In this paper, I show that certain parts of constitutional texts can plausibly be thought of as having a meaning that changes and evolves on its own. This idea is widely rejected, especially but not only by a group of legal theorists who subscribe to a theory of constitutional interpretation called originalism. In a recent paper, the originalist Lawrence Solum has defended the so-called “fixation thesis”, according to which the meaning of the constitutional text is fixed when it was first enacted and does not change later on. Solum rejects the idea that the meaning of the constitutional text might evolve because he cannot identify a plausible way in which any text could have an evolving meaning. I argue that there are such texts and offer folk-fairy-tales as an example. I then go on to present reasons why constitutions can plausibly be considered to be texts that, like fairy-tales, change their meanings independently.



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Katharina Stevens
University of Lethbridge

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