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On Reading the Constitution

On Reading the Constitution

Laurence H. Tribe, Michael C. Dorf

ISBN 9780674636262

Publication date: 01/01/1993

Our Constitution speaks in general terms of “liberty” and “property,” of the “privileges and immunities” of citizens, and of the “equal protection of the laws”—open-ended phrases that seem to invite readers to reflect in them their own visions and agendas. Yet, recognizing that the Constitution cannot be merely what its interpreters wish it to be, this volume’s authors draw on literary and mathematical analogies to explore how the fundamental charter of American government should be construed today.


  • A lively and important contribution to the continuing dialogue on constitutional interpretation… [The book] serves to remind us of the trouble we make for ourselves when we assume that we can predict the conclusions of the original intentionalist, that liberals are always activists and conservatives never, or that the protections of liberty afforded by a living Constitution have all come from only one ideological camp.

    —Harry N. Scheiber, New York Times Book Review


  • Laurence H. Tribe is Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard Law School.
  • Michael C. Dorf is Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell Law School.

Book Details

  • 164 pages
  • 0-1/2 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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