Giuseppe Ugo Rescigno

Interpretation and Constitution

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The author starts out by tackling the theme of interpretation in legal experience, first examining the questions of communication, understanding, agreement or dissent. In the author's view interpretation is not caused by a lack of meaning in the original proposition but the exact opposite: propositions so rich in meaning. More generally, the jurist's activity of interpretation presupposes that the original texts on which he exercises such activity in any case mean something, never being literally senseless (as when different words are taken at random from the dictionary and are put together higgledy-piggledy). Moreover, precisely for this reason often the activity of interpretation becomes necessary in reference to a specific question, but is unnecessary in reference to a different question. The work proceeds to examine the theme of the relation between interpretation and Constitution, pointing out how in logical terms, when the two terms are placed in relation, the possible relations between them can number three: a) no relation exists between them (i.e. in the specific case the activity of interpretation has no connection with the Constitution); b) they are coextensive (i.e. everything that is said about the interpretation totally applies to the Constitution, and therefore there is nothing specific in the interpretation of the Constitution that differentiates it from the interpretation in other parts of law); in the interpretation of the Constitution often rules, principles and criteria apply that are found throughout law but there are also specific rules, principles and criteria. In the author's view the fact that the Constitution is a general supreme act entails that in constitutional law the principles have a weight and pervasiveness that are not found in other branches. Principles, as the etymology of the word tells us, are beginnings, points of departure, which do not complete the journey, but point the way. Thus, a principle by definition may have many diversified implementations, provided that all of them fall under the governing principle itself.

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