The Cycles of Constitutional Time

The Cycles of Constitutional Time (Oxford University Press, 2020), explains how America’s constitutional system changes through the interplay among three cycles: the rise and fall of dominant political parties, the waxing and waning of political polarization, and alternating episodes of constitutional decay and constitutional renewal.   These cycles affect the work of the federal courts and theories about constitutional interpretation. The book shows how the political parties have switched sides on judicial review not once but twice in the 20th century, and what struggles over judicial review will look like in the coming decades. Cycles argues that the big threat to American democracy today is  “constitutional rot” — the historical process through which republics become less representative and less devoted to the common good. Brought on by increasing economic inequality and loss of trust, constitutional rot threatens our constitutional system.  But the book offers a message of hope: American democracy has weathered these cycles before and will get through them again.