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Vanderbilt University Law School

Constitutional Law

Statutory interpretation

2016

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Is The Constitution Special?, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe Jan 2016

Is The Constitution Special?, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

"[W]e must never forget, that it is a constitution we are expounding.” If there was such a danger when Chief Justice John Marshall wrote those words, there is none today. Americans regularly assume that the Constitution is special, and legal professionals treat it differently from other sources of law. But what if that is wrongheaded? In this Article, we identify and question the professional practice of constitutional exceptionalism. First, we show that standard arguments from text, structure, and history work differently in constitutional law. Second, we examine the possible justifications for such distinctive interpretation among lawyers, and we find them …