— William J. Brennan
Context: The framers discerned fundamental principles.... But our acceptance of the fundamental principles has not and should not bind us to those precise, at times anachronistic, contours. We current justices read the Constitution in the only way that we can: as 20th-century Americans... The ultimate question must be, what do the words of the text mean in our time? For the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs. What the constitutional fundamentals meant to the wisdom of other times cannot be their measure to the vision of our time. Similarly, what those fundamentals mean for us, our descendants will learn, cannot be their measure to the vision of their time.
Speech to the Text and Teaching Symposium at Georgetown University (October 12, 1985).