Is the Constitution a Cage?

The Annual Walter F. Murphy Lecture in American Constitutionalism

April 1, 2014
Whittington lecture poster

Keith WhittingtonWilliam Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics, Princeton University

This very special annual lecture celebrates the work of the late Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus, Princeton University, and his dedication to excellence in the study of American and comparative constitutional law theory.  A decade after joining the Princeton faculty, Professor Murphy was named the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, succeeding Woodrow Wilson, Edward S. Corwin, and Alpheus T. Mason in one of the Nation's most prestigious Chairs.

The U.S. Constitution limits what government officials and political majorities can do.  We sometimes strain at those limits, and there are periodic calls for scrapping or amending the Constitution.  Is the Constitution a cage in which we are trapped?  How can a restraining, written constitution be justified?

This very special annual lecture celebrates the work of the late Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus, Princeton University, and his dedication to excellence in the study of American and comparative constitutional law theory.  A decade after joining the Princeton faculty, Professor Murphy was named the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, succeeding Woodrow Wilson, Edward S. Corwin, and Alpheus T. Mason in one of the Nation's most prestigious Chairs. 

Keith E. Whittington is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and currently director of graduate studies in the Department of Politics. He has been a John M. Olin Foundation Faculty Fellow, an American Council of Learned Societies Junior Faculty Fellow, a Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy and Policy Center, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Texas School of Law.  He is a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. He has published widely on American constitutional theory and development, federalism, judicial politics, and the presidency.  He is the author of Constitutional Construction: Divided Powers and Constitutional Meaning (2001); Constitutional Interpretation: Textual Meaning, Original Intent, and Judicial Review (2001); and Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy: The Presidency, the Supreme Court, and Constitutional Leadership in U.S. History (2009), which won the C. Herman Pritchett Award for best book in law and courts and the J. David Greenstone Award for best book in politics and history.  He is editor (with Neal Devins) of Congress and the Constitution (2005), editor (with R. Daniel Kelemen and Gregory A. Caldeira) of The Oxford Handbook of Law and Politics (2008), and editor of Law and Politics: Critical Concepts in Political Science (2012).  He is also the author (with Howard Gillman and Mark A. Graber) of American Constitutionalism, vol. 1: Structures of Government and American Constitutionalism, vol. 2: Rights and Liberties (2012), which together won the Teaching and Mentoring Award for innovative instructional materials in law and courts.  He is editor (with Gerald Leonard) of New Essays on American Constitutional History, and editor (with Maeva Marcus, Melvin Urofsky, and Mark Tushnet) of the Cambridge Studies on the American Constitution.  He is currently working on a political history of the judicial review of federal statutes and a volume of source materials in American political thought.  He earned his BA and BBA at the University of Texas, Austin, and his MA and PhD in Political Science from Yale University.

Video:

Is the Constitution a Cage?

Location:

Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall

Cosponsored by:

  • The Program in Law and Public Affairs

Photo Album:

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