Posted: December 4th, 2022


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The interpretation of constitution


understandably varies as the numerous court challenges over the years are reflective of. There are different ways of interpreting the constitution and they all based on logical reasoning. The key ways that judges interpret the law is originalism, textualism and instrumentalism (Murrill, 2018). The more suitable way of interpretation is applying the theory of instrumentalism which is also the living constitutionalist perspective. The basis of using this viewpoint is that the society changes over time and these changes have implications on the application of law. As such, the applicability of the constitution should just not stay the same across centuries and decades but should evolve according to people’s needs.

​Living constitutionalism posits that the key aspect of the constitution is in the way that it directs how the current government functions. This factor makes it more relevant as the interpretation is more aligned with the needs of the people. The conditions or circumstances that define a certain period should factor in the manner that judges interpret the constitution (Murrill, 2018). The view that the constitution is a populist tool according to living constitutionalism means that the right way to interpret it is in regards to the will of the people. This will is associated with people existing at a particular point therefore time and developments that take place should influence interpretation of law. 

​What makes living constitutionalist or instrumentalist way of interpretation more appropriate is that it is objective and generally considers the historical and contextual elements such as legislative history, practice and precedent. Judges should the formulation and use of every law according to its purpose. The interpretation should be functional rather being literal(Blokker, 2019). The principles that the constitution should support progression of society instead of preservation. 



 believe that the Constitution should be interpreted and adapted to the current living situations the country faces at its time. Anytime I think about a historical document I tend to take myself to that period in time and reflect on how the customs of living were back then and how it is significantly different than now. When the Constitution was being written there were significant differences than what we are used to in our time period, so it should make sense that our interpretation of the Constitution should adapt to our current era. 

As an example the Bible was written centuries ago and many religions have used its scriptures to help them with current situations that may occur. This is a very praised document shared by many with very specific descriptions of its time, yet we are still able to use them to help us in our current living state. The same way the Bible has been adapted to fit our living circumstances, the Constitution should be interpreted that way too. 

The constitution holds high power over its citizens, but it also helps its citizens in times of conflict and should be adapted to current living circumstances. We are living in very different times than 230 years ago and there’s no telling where we will be in 50 years from now. Change doesn’t always have to be bad and we all interpret things differently. However we are progressing very quickly and the same document used 200 years ago won’t exactly apply to our living conditions, so I believe it’s up to us to help it adapt to our time.




Different constitutional interpretations can lead to different viewpoints of the constitution and its different application to court cases and legislation. It is important that the constitution is applied in a just and consistent way so as to assure the protectionof individual rights and that the constitution is responsive to the changing needs of society. Judges and especially in the Supreme Court of the United States have a duty to ensure that the constitution is interpreted to reflect the original intentions of the drafters of the constitution while at the same time ensuring judicial pragmatism and that the constitution is applicable to present-day circumstances.

One way to understand the original meaning and intention of the framers of the constitution is to interpret the constitution in its original context. “Judges should seek to understand the contexts in which the different laws and statutes were made” (Balkin 2018). By understanding the underlying principles behind the laws, then the appropriate interpretation can be obtained and applied to similar situations. One way to understand and interpret the constitution is to interpret the laws therein based on the common meaning of the legal text constitution are ambiguous. In most cases the plain meaning of the text is usually sufficient. As such, the statements in the constitution are interpreted based on the understanding of the original wording of the statements in the constitution. Due to the evolving needs of different generations it becomes necessary that the constitution is also interpreted in a manner that reflects flexibility and responsiveness to changing times. 


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