Despite the outpouring of works on constitutional theory in the past several decades, no general introduction to the field has been available. Stephen Griffin provides here an original contribution to American constitutional theory in the form of a short, lucid introduction to the subject for scholars and an informed lay audience. He surveys in an unpolemical way the theoretical issues raised by judicial practice in the United States over the past three centuries, particularly since the Warren Court, and locates both theory and practices that have inspired dispute among jurists and scholars in historical context. At the same time he advances an argument about the distinctive nature of our American constitutionalism, regarding it as an instance of the interpenetration of law and politics.
American Constitutionalism is unique in considering the perspectives of both law and political science in relation to constitutional theory. Constitutional theories produced by legal scholars do not usually discuss state-centered theories of American politics, the importance of institutions, behaviorist research on judicial decision making, or questions of constitutional reform, but this book takes into account the political science literature on these and other topics. The work also devotes substantial attention to judicial review and its relationship to American democracy and theories of constitutional interpretation.