Kurt T. Lash


A remarkable effort is afoot to justify American constitutional law at the end of the twentieth century. Ground zero in this effort is Yale Law School, and the principle architects are professors Akhil Reed Amar and Bruce Ackerman. Together, these scholars are calling for a reevaluation of commonly accepted doctrines with the goal of grounding judicial review and constitutional interpretation on the principles of popular sovereignty. What makes the effort remarkable is its emphasis on political morality, as opposed to the attainment of a particular doctrinal end. Take, for example, Amar's explanation of his purpose in writing The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction. He writes, "this book has aimed to explain how today's judges and lawyers have often gotten it right without quite realizing why." For a book with over 300 pages of text and 942 footnotes, that may seem a rather modest goal. If, in fact, judges and lawyers have been getting it right, what is the problem?