Robin L. West


This Article examines the impact of the twenty-year-old "turn" toward interpretation in legal and constitutional scholarship. In part, because of the impact of Hans-Georg Gadamer's work, scores of critical legal scholars, including some of those writing for this Symposium, now think of adjudication and legal discourse generally as primarily interpretive, rather than economic or political or distinctively legal enterprises. This turn toward interpretation has opened the way for new insights and ways of thinking, but it has also come with costs. It has, for example, diverted attention from the ways in which constitutional law might be appropriately criticized by reference to values drawn from somewhere other than competing texts. This Article assesses those costs, and in light of them, urges a partial return to noninterpretive or preinterpretive ways of thinking about law and its consequences.

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