John F. Muller, Yale Law School, has published The Common Law Culture and the Enlightenment Ideal. Here is the abstract.
In this Article, I argue that some truths about our constitutional system are best left misunderstood. I make this argument by defending a self-deception at the core of our collective self-understanding. We often speak as if our constitutional system rests on an uncompromising inquiry into constitutional meaning. I contest the descriptive accuracy of this conventional wisdom yet defend the normative value of its perpetuation. The notion that we uncompromisingly pursue true constitutional meaning, I argue, derives from a deep constitutional commitment to Enlightenment thought. This notion, however, ignores a comparably deep constitutional commitment to the common law tradition, which privileges some considerations ahead of true constitutional meaning. Although we pay fealty to Enlightenment, we follow a contradictory path informed by both the Enlightenment ideal and the common law culture. This contradictory state of affairs and the misunderstanding upon which it rests, I argue, perpetuate a redemptive vision of our constitutional system vital to its preservation.Download the paper from SSRN at the link.