In Living Constitution, Dying Faith, political scientist and legal historian Bradley Watson examines how the contemporary embrace of the “living” Constitution has arisen from the radical transformation of American political thought. This transformation, brought about in the late nineteenth century by the philosophies of social Darwinism and pragmatism, explains how and why contemporary jurisprudence is so alien to the constitutionalism of the American Founders. To understand why today’s courts rule the way they do, one must start with the ideas exposed by and explained in Watson’s timely tome.
Today’s view—rooted in progressivism—is not simply that we have an interpretable Constitution but also that we have a Constitution which must be interpreted in light of “historically situated,” continually evolving notions of the individual, the state, and society. This modern historical approach has been embraced by the judicial appointees of both Democratic and Republican presidents, by both liberals and conservatives, for a century or more. Living Constitution, Dying Faith shows how such an approach has directly undermined Americans’ faith in a limited Constitution—as well as their faith in the eternal verities.