Abstract

The constitutional narrative plays perhaps a surprisingly important role in American society. It claims to unfold present judgment from past precedent, according to the doctrine of stare decisis, given an eloquent exposition by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, where the Constitution is referred to as a “covenant” among generations. Analysis of this and other covenantal narratives spun by the Court suggests that despite the emphasis on precedent they may work according to the retrospective logic of narrative itself, in which elements become functional in terms of what follows them. Plots work from end to beginning, reinterpreting the past in terms of the present. The Supreme Court opinion, when subjected to an analysis sensitive to its narrative rhetoric, suggests something akin to the structure of prophecy and fulfillment in its composition of the covenantal narrative.

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