4 S. Cal. Interdisc. L. J. 463 (1994-1995)
Is Natural Law Theory of Any Use in Constitutional Interpretation

handle is hein.journals/scid4 and id is 471 raw text is: IS NATURAL LAW THEORY OF
ANY USE IN CONSTITUTIONAL
INTERPRETATION?
R. GEORGE WRIGHT*
I. INTRODUCTION
Debate over the methodology of constitutional adjudication has
in recent years been vigorous.1 Whether that debate has been fruitful
is, however, open to serious doubt.2 Particularly within, as Professor
Robin West has described it, our fractured, relativist, nihilist, mini-
mally pluralist moral climate,3 it is not surprising that some of the
most popular approaches to constitutional interpretation tend to rat-
ify, as much as they definitively resolve, conflicts in interpretive meth-
odologies.4 When we add in the academic bias in favor of
methodological novelty, as against mere subscription to the method-
ologically familiar, prospects for reaching consensus on constitutional
methodology become even more remote.
* Professor of Law, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University.
1. For a concise summary of some of the highlights, see Daniel A. Farber, The Originalism
Debate: A Guide for the Perplexed, 49 OHIO ST. L.J. 1085 (1989).
2. See, e.g., David L. Faigman, Madisonian Balancing: A Theory of Constitutional Adjudi-
cation, 88 Nw. U. L. REv. 641, 643 (1994) ([tloday, constitutional adjudication is in a state of
disarray); Michael J. Perry, The Authority of Text, Tradition, and Reason: A Theory of Constitu-
tional Interpretation, 58 S. CAL. L. REV. 551, 588 (1985) (debate in constitutional theory
seems interminable).
3. Robin L. West, Constitutional Scepticism, 72 B.U. L. REV. 765, 771 (1992) (emphasis
deleted). See also Sotirios A. Barber, Whither Moral Realism in Constitutional Theory? A Reply
to Professor McConnell, 64 CHi.-KENT L. REV. 111,111 (1988) (moral skepticism as entrenched
academic orthodoxy).
4. See, e.g., Richard H. Fallon, A Constructivist Coherence Theory of Constitutional Inter-
pretation, 100 HARV. L. REV. 1189, 1189-90 (1987) (legitimizing appeals to constitutional text,
original intent, purposes, precedent, and to value-based or policy arguments); Perry, supra note
2, at 552 (referring to, if not endorsing, appeals to text, ratifier morality, precedent, current
public values, and the individual judge's own values); Robert C. Post, Theories of Constitutional
Interpretation, 30 REPRESENTATIONS 13, 29-32 (1990).

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