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What Is a Constitutionalist?

The law is a very complex area of society that entails massive amount of interpretation and explanation. Belief systems have been formed from such studies of the law. One belief system involves a strict understanding and reading of the law. This belief system is referred to as constitutionalism. Those who believe in constitutionalism are referred to as constitutionalists.

The derivation of the term constitutionalist is based on the most fundamental legal document of the land, the Constitution. A constitutionalist believes in the exact wording of the law. Thus, he or she believes in a limited government, whose size, scope, and power is limited by the Constitution.

Constitutionalists aren’t necessarily a group of people with a binding set of beliefs. Like any other belief system, constitutionalists believe in certain general values or ideas, and may differ in more specific issues or matters. Within the belief system of constitutionalism, there exist 2 main schools of thought. The first is that of the textualist, while the second is that of the originalist. As previously mentioned, the 2 schools of thought share the same set of general beliefs but differ some degree to how the Constitution ought to be interpreted. Textualists believe in the utmost literal translation of the Constitution while the Originalists place more emphasis on the writers’ intent. Thus, the originalists believe in following the law according what the founders intended rather than the complete literal meaning of the law.

As a general belief, constitutionalists do not believe in judicial activism, the belief that a judge can render a judgment based solely on his manner of thinking.

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