Judge Stephen Reinhardt: Our Constitution and How It Grows

Life to Death: Our Constitution and How It Grow
44 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 391 (2010)

As you are all by now aware, I am a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit . . . For a judge, constitutional interpretation is neither an academic enterprise, nor a fascinating theoretical pursuit, but rather a task that defines his role, in the fulfillment of his responsibilities to the nation. For this reason, I have decided to speak to you today about the pressing need for a deeper understanding by practitioners, the legal academy, and jurists, of the correct way to interpret our Constitution and, thereby, vindicate the inalienable rights that it guarantees to all of us–irrespective of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin–from the cradle to the grave . . . the Constitution is a ‘living’ document that primarily guarantees rights and privileges to the inhabitants of contemporary America, rights and privileges that may expand as our nation continues to develop. For those of us who believe in a ‘living’ Constitution, the Constitution itself is much more than a mere historical text to be parsed for its literal, original meaning . . .