Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Professors Amar ’84 and Levinson To Debate: Does the Text of the Constitution Matter?

Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar ’84 and Visiting Professor Sanford V. Levinson will debate “Orthodoxy or Orthopraxy: Does the Text of the Constitution Matter?” on Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 12:10 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in Room 120. The debate is free and open to the public, with lunch provided. It is part of the monthly “Debating Law & Religion” series.

In their debate, they will consider American constitutionalism, asking: Is it an orthodoxy based on the text of a document drafted in 1787, or is it defined by our constitutional practices where the text merely sustains constitutional discourse but does not define it? Should America’s quasi-religious relationship to the Constitution be defined exclusively by the text of the Constitution or evolving constitutional practice?

Akhil Reed Amar is the Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School and the author of “The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction” (1998) and America’s Constitution: A Biography” (2005).

Sanford V. Levinson is a Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School and the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas (Austin). He is author of “Constitutional Faith” (1988) and “Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)” (2006).

For readings on the debate’s topic, email

Launched in spring 2011 and sponsored by the Dean’s Office, “Debating Law & Religion” is a monthly series of lectures at Yale Law School aimed at creating a formal forum to voice and debate diverse views on a broad range of issues relating to law and religion.