Saint Louis University Public Law Review


Yale mathematician, Benoît B. Mandelbrot, revolutionized the way in which we view and understand the natural world. Where earlier visionaries were only able to see mathematical “monsters,” Mandelbrot was able to discern nature’s geometric masterpiece. This dramatic breakthrough allowed him to identify and comprehend patterns and shapes that no one had previously understood and led him to develop the field of fractal geometry. Similar patterns, this article contends, are deeply embedded in the U.S. Constitution, and the metaphor of fractals, therefore, enables us to significantly bolster our understanding of the nation’s supreme law. This article, thus, develops the fractal theory of American constitutionalism, which posits that profound patterns of self-similarity ought to inform our fundamental understanding of the Constitution’s inherent structure and elemental coherence. In doing so, this novel theory not only illuminates the very nature of the U.S. Constitution and its contents, but it elucidates how the Constitution operates and provides a foundation for a key method of constitutional interpretation. Finally, the fractal theory of American constitutionalism provides a new methodology for gauging the document’s tensile strength and exposing historical fault lines and present structural weaknesses. In doing so, this theory also provides general guidance on how to mend possible constitutional deficiencies.

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