What is the Interactive Constitution?

In the Interactive Constitution, scholars from across the legal and philosophical spectrum interact with each other to explore the meaning of each provision of the Constitution. Here’s how the Interactive process works: Scholars are selected with guidance from leaders of the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society—two prominent constitutional law organizations that represent different viewpoints on the Constitution. Leaders of each organization recommend scholars to write about each provision of the Constitution. The pairs of scholars find common ground, writing a joint statement of what they agree upon about that provision’s history and meaning. Then the scholars write individual statements describing their divergent views on that part of the Constitution.

The Interactive Constitution is a three year project. So far, we have completed Interactive materials for the first 15 Amendments of the Constitution. During the course of the next two years, we will complete Interactive materials all of the provisions of the Constitution. In the meanwhile, yet-to-be completed provisions of the Constitution are annotated with materials from Annenberg Classroom.

Explore the Constitution

From the main menu, use the “Articles” and “Amendments” tabs on the upper right hand side of the screen to select the part of the Constitution you would like to see. The “Articles” tab will take you to a page that lists each article of the Constitution. Click on any article in order to view Interactive materials related to that article. Likewise, click on the “Amendments” tab to see a list of all the amendments, and click on any amendment to see Interactive materials related to that amendment.

Once you click on an article or amendment, you will be taken to a page dedicated to that article or amendment: The text of the provision is on the left side of the screen. On the right, you will see the title “Common Interpretation.” This is the joint statement describing what the pair of scholars agree upon with respect to that provision. On the lower left side of the page and below the Common Interpretation, you will see the heading “Matters of Debate” followed by titles of two separate essays. Click on these titles to read the essays describing the distinct views of the scholars who wrote the joint statement. Note that for some provisions, there is only one interpretation, there are no separate essays. For these provisions, it was unnecessary to write separate essays because the meaning is not debated.

Some portions of certain articles in the Constitution are highlighted. These portions are highlighted because they have been changed by an amendment. If you click the highlighted text, a box will pop up explaining how an amendment changed that provision.

At any point, you can hit the “menu” button in the lower left hand side of the screen in order to return back to the main menu page.

“About the Constitution” Tab

Under the tab labelled “About the Constitution” at the upper left hand side of the main menu page, you will find a series of white papers that provide overarching background on the Constitution, its history, and how it should be interpreted and applied.

Searching the Interactive Constitution

You can search the Interactive Constitution by typing the word or phrase you are looking for into the search box on the upper right hand side of the main menu screen.

Download the App

The Interactive Constitution app is available for free in the Apple and Android stores.

Itunes App Download
Get it on Google Play

Additional Resources

You can find additional resources—such as educational materials, recordings of live debates and podcasts—related to that subject by clicking “resources” in the lower right hand corner of the screen.