David McNamee, 2017-19 Postdoctoral Fellow, earned a J.D. from Yale Law School and is completing a Ph.D. in Politics at Princeton University. David's project is called “The Citizens' Constitution.” He argues for citizens' responsibility to directly participate in constitutional interpretation in certain roles—as voters and jurors, litigants and disobedients, partisans and deliberators. This theory sheds new light on the old idea of the Constitution as fundamental law. The Constitution’s basic principles are beyond the power of institutions to alter, are accessible to citizens’ common reason, and ground our disagreements while inviting ongoing interpretive debate.
By participating in this ongoing interpretive argument, citizens bring their fundamental law closer into alignment with the ideal of law that is self-given. This line of inquiry suggests institutional reforms to better realize these values of interpretive participation, such as juries' power to find fundamental law as well as a responsibility to give reasons for their decisions. At the Baldy Center, David will aim to develop this project as both a book manuscript and in several articles spelling out its institutional and doctrinal implications.