The Supreme Court’s Web Site and the “Living Constitution”

From the Supreme Court’s own web site:

This power of “judicial review” has given the Court a crucial responsibility in assuring individual rights, as well as in maintaining a “living Constitution” whose broad provisions are continually applied to complicated new situations.

At this level of generality, the substance of the statement has to be uncontroversial — I think all the Justices would say that the Court’s job includes applying the broad provisions of the Constitution to complicated new situations. (See then-Justice Rehnquist’s views on the subject in his The Notion of a Living Constitution, originally published at 54 Texas Law Review 693 (1976).) Still, the term “living Constitution” has become so ideologically loaded that it struck me as a bit surprising to see it on what I would expect to be a pretty uncontroversial “About the Supreme Court” Web page. Many thanks to Prof. Helen Knowles for pointing this out.

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