What is constitutional interpretation

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Constitutional interpretation is usually assumed to be a particular kind of legislative interpretation—particular, because constitutions have characteristics of their own, yet legislative interpretation all the same, because constitutions are written laws enacted by a (supreme) political authority. This article argues that the legislative paradigm is ill-suited to constitutional interpretation, for it represents an encroachment of the ontology of legality on the realm of constitutionality. Making sense of an object as a constitutional norm presupposes the a priori category of the constitution, understood as a substantive category in its own right, as intimated in the tradition of liberal democratic constitutionalism. It is this presupposition that makes constitutional meaning possible and justifies considering constitutional interpretation as something peculiar to itself, seriously downplaying the significance of contingencies of form, language, structure, and history in constitutional argument.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbermoac096
Pages (from-to)1130-1161
Number of pages32
JournalInternational Journal of Constitutional Law
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


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