Abstract

America has always been a wonderfully diverse place, a country where billions of stories spanning centuries and continents converge under the rubric of a Constitution that unites them in an ongoing narrative of national self-creation. Rather than rehearse familiar debates over what our Constitution means, this essay explores what the Constitution does. It treats the Constitution as a verb – a creative and contested practice that yields a trans-generational conversation about the meaning of our past, the imperatives of our present, and the values and aspirations that should point us toward our future. And it meditates on how this practice, drawing deeply on the capacious wellsprings of text and history, simultaneously reinforces the political order and provides a language for challenging its legitimacy, thereby constituting us as “We, the People,” joined in a single project framed centuries ago that nevertheless remains inevitably our own.

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