Crosspost from Balkinization
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once famously wrote, “We must think things not words, or at least we must constantly translate our words into the facts for which they stand, if we are to keep to the real and the true.” The difficulty of this advice should not be underestimated – especially for lawyers. Lawyers are rather more gifted at thinking words not things: at wielding and manipulating concepts that do not always match up well to the world on the ground. Lawyers, Rick Hills has written, have “a deeply felt desire . . . to achieve noninstrumental certainty in the law.” And Fred Schauer has written of the lawyer’s tendency to think in terms of “juridical categories” rather than categories that correspond more closely to the lived reality of our world. I have called this temptation the lure of acontextuality: the futile hope that we can impose order on the world from the top down with the conceptual skills that are simultaneously lawyers’ greatest gift and their greatest handicap.
Posted on September 28, 2009 @ 4:17 pm
Lingering in the background of many of the articles appearing in The Constitution in 2020 is a debate about the rhetorical framing of rights and policy. The debate is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the transition from Robert Post’s "A Progressive Perspective on Freedom of Speech" to Yochai Benkler’s "Information, Structures, and the Constitution of American Society." The authors of these two articles agree on the underlying goals of information policy: that it should encourage the public to participate in a democratic culture, foster a democratic society, and promote democratic legitimacy. (Benkler assumes that we should “strive for a more democratic society, where individuals are ever more free and equal citizens” (Benkler at 195). Post notes that “[t]he First Amendment safeguards the ability of persons to participate in the formation of public opinion so as to preserve the democratic legitimacy of our government” (Post at 182). Both Benkler and Post train their arguments on similar countervailing interests (the commercial and the individual) and come to similar conclusions (generally favoring the individual).)
Despite their similar goals, Post and Benkler present markedly different ways of reaching those goals. These different strategies create a tension, reflecting the authors’ divergent agendas.
Posted on July 13, 2009 @ 4:30 pm
Readers interested in delving into other sources that comment on 2020’s main themes should regularly consult our 2020 Readings section, where we’ll be actively compiling (with your help, of course) works that will be useful for creating specially themed reading groups, crafting research projects, or creating your own personal reading list. For starters, the 2020 staff recommends the following:
Posted on July 8, 2009 @ 9:50 pm
The Constitution in 2020 is a companion website to The Constitution in 2020 (Oxford University Press 2009). Here you will find ten sample chapters from the book, essays about the future of the U.S. Constitution, discussions of current constitutional issues, a bibliography and resources for further study.
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