Herbert Storing’s Constitutionalism by Ralph Rossum

Ralph Rossum, Political Science Reviewer 29 (2000).


Only weeks before his death, Herbert J. Storing served as a┬ádiscussant on a panel at the 1977 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association entitled “Whatever Happened to the Constitution in the Study of Constitutional Law?” The answer to that question as offered by C. Herman Pritchett, Martin Shapiro, and the others panelists was, in effect, that the Constitution had disappeared as a legitimate object of study and that, on balance, that was a good thing. After all, they agreed, constitutional law is concerned more with what judges say the Constitution means than with the intrinsic meaning of the Constitution itself; its operative premise is the notion of a “living constitution” whose ever-changing meaning is shaped by contending legal and political forces, not the existence of a permanent and fixed constitution whose principles and structure actually give shape to American politics and law. Upon hearing these remarks, Storing rose and observed that while his colleagues seemed to care intensely about the reasons for why the Constitution had disappeared, they did not seem to care that it had in fact, quite the contrary, they seemed to rejoice in that fact. Then, with all the passion and energy with which he characteristically punctuated his classroom lectures, he thundered, “Well, I care!”

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