Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Contesting constitutional meaning: The political Constitution and the myth of judicial supremacy

George Thomas, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In the last decade a lively debate about “extrajudicial” constitutional interpretation has broken out among constitutional scholars. And while this debate has insisted upon the centrality of nonjudicial constitutional interpretation, this scholarship remains rooted in “legal” views of the Constitution, which continue to give primacy of place to the Court. This dissertation seeks to go further by articulating a political view of the Constitution, which will allow us to resituate how we think of the Constitution and place questions of interpretation within this larger framework. This political view suggests that the constitution calls forth continual debate about constitutional meaning, that the “settlement” of constitutional issues is not an essential feature of our constitutional system and, thus, that constitutional politics with overlapping views, discontinuities, and essentially unsettled meaning are an inherent feature of our Constitution. Recovering the political Constitution is an essential step in rethinking what the Constitution is and, in doing so, overcoming the deeply ingrained myth of judicial supremacy.

Subject Area

Political science|Literature

Recommended Citation

Thomas, George, "Contesting constitutional meaning: The political Constitution and the myth of judicial supremacy" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3136784.