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Cass R. Sunstein, Is Living Constitutionalism Dead? The Enigma of Bolling v. Sharpe (Harv. Pub. L. Working Paper No. 22-30, 2022).

Abstract: In Bolling v. Sharpe, the Supreme Court struck down a federal statute segregating the schools in the District of Columbia. The Equal Protection Clause is inapplicable to the national government, and the Court relied on the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Bolling v. Sharpe has been followed by many cases that find an “equal protection component” to the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment (“reverse incorporation”). These cases are impossible to defend on originalist grounds, and they are exceptionally challenging to defend on textualist grounds. They are best understood as an embodiment of “living constitutionalism” or some related approach (potentially including common good constitutionalism). Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, overruling Roe v. Wade, adopts an interpretation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, rooted in a combination of text, originalism, and tradition, that generally sets itself against living constitutionalism or related approaches, and that is incompatible with the approach in Bolling and successor cases. Under the approach in Dobbs, discrimination on the basis of race and sex, or on any other ground, should be subject to rational basis review (at most) – and should frequently be upheld. If this is an unacceptable conclusion, it is a strong point for Bolling and against the approach in Dobbs, at least under one view about how to choose a theory of constitutional interpretation.