Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Winter 2015




University of Tulsa College of Law




This essay explores the arguments of Bruce Ackerman, who decries the Roberts Court’s “shattering judicial betrayal” of our living constitution’s Civil Rights Revolution. He argues for a broader conception of the constitutional canon: The higher law of the Constitution includes not only formally adopted provisions but also “landmark statutes” and judicial “superprecedents,” for example, those of the Civil Rights Revolution. He also argues for a broader conception of popular sovereignty: We the People manifest our will not only through the formal amending procedures but also through higher lawmaking procedures outside Article V. He exhorts us to fidelity to our living constitution: the commitments “hammered out” through the processes of popular sovereignty during the Civil Rights Revolution. I reconstruct Ackerman’s living constitutionalism as a moral reading in which faithful interpretation requires normative judgments about the best understanding of the constitutional commitments that have been built out over time.


Book review of Bruce Ackerman, We the People, Volume III: The Civil Rights Revolution, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (2014)

Boston University School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 15-12

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