NewYorkUniversity
LawReview
Current Issue

Volume 77, Number 2

May 2002

Our Democratic Constitution

The Honorable Stephen Breyer

Madison Lecture

In this James Madison Lecture, Justice Breyer presents an approach to constitutional interpretation that places considerable weight upon the consequences of judicial decisionmaking. Eschewing an approach that relies solely on language, history, tradition, and precedent, Justice Breyer uses five contemporary examples to demonstrate how his concept of “consequential” constitutional interpretation might work in practice. Justice Breyer argues that this approach is more faithful to the principles that animated our Founding Fathers, encourages greater public participation in our democratic government, and would create a constitutional system that better promotes governmental solutions consistent with community needs and individual dignity.