The critical importance of interpretation to the enterprise of constitutional adjudication has been highlighted recently by several cases out of the Commonwealth Caribbean. In Reading Text and Polity, noted law Professor Simeon McIntosh contends that hermeneutics – the art of interpretation – is central to how Caribbean constitutions are read and in turn, is a fundamental political act defining not only individuals, but communities.
In this collections of essays, McIntosh argues that the received ways of reading Caribbean constitutions have resulted in Caribbean societies being trapped within a colonial hermeneutic. Confronted with some of the same philosophical issues evident in American constitutional theory, Caribbean constitutional theory has also had to deal with judicial authority and the constraints on legitimate interpretation. The retention of the special savings clause in most of the Caribbean constitutions has resulted in a fixing of the meaning of the constitutional text giving rise to a virtual cap on the nature and scope of adjudication and consequently, the true authority of the judicial system in a constitutional democracy.
Reading Text and Polity address this fundamental challenge of interpretation and implications fo the role of the Caribbean Court of Justice.