The Unwritten Principles Behind the Written Constitution

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As Yale Law School professor Akhil Reed Amar notes in the introduction to his new book, "America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By," the United States' foundational document consists of only 8,000 words. Therefore, our country's founding fathers, Amar writes, purposefully structured our Constitution with an invitation to interpretation using outside texts, including Supreme Court opinions, statutes and presidential proclamations, or what the author calls the "unwritten Constitution."

In "America's Unwritten Constitution," Amar examines the debates and procedures that produced the Constitution, how Americans' lived experiences influence Constitutional interpretation, and the symbolic meaning of canonical texts that affect our understanding of the Constitution.