Dworkin's "originalism": The role of intentions in constitutional interpretation

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Ronald Dworkin's effort to distinguish multiple layers of intention that are embedded in the constitutional text has been taken as a substantial critique of traditional originalist jurisprudence. Dworkin has strongly argued that the constitutional text embodies abstract principles. These principles are understood to be both fundamental to the Founders' intentions and the primary focus of correct constitutional interpretation faithful to those intentions. This article argues that Dworkin's reconceptualization of originalism is theoretically flawed. Although there may be normative reasons for preferring that the judiciary always enforce broad constitutional principles, such a jurisprudence cannot be understood as either consistent with or required by an originalist interpretative method whose primary commitment is to fidelity to founding intent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-229
Number of pages33
JournalReview of Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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