Constitutional Originalism

A Debate

Author: Robert W. Bennett,Lawrence B. Solum

Publisher: Cornell University Press

ISBN: 0801461111

Category: Law

Page: 224

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Problems of constitutional interpretation have many faces, but much of the contemporary discussion has focused on what has come to be called "originalism." The core of originalism is the belief that fidelity to the original understanding of the Constitution should constrain contemporary judges. As originalist thinking has evolved, it has become clear that there is a family of originalist theories, some emphasizing the intent of the framers, while others focus on the original public meaning of the constitutional text. This idea has enjoyed a modern resurgence, in good part in reaction to the assumption of more sweeping power by the judiciary, operating in the name of constitutional interpretation. Those arguing for a "living Constitution" that keeps up with a changing world and changing values have resisted originalism. This difference in legal philosophy and jurisprudence has, since the 1970s, spilled over into party politics and the partisan wrangling over court appointments from appellate courts to the Supreme Court. In Constitutional Originalism, Robert W. Bennett and Lawrence B. Solum elucidate the two sides of this debate and mediate between them in order to separate differences that are real from those that are only apparent. In a thorough exploration of the range of contemporary views on originalism, the authors articulate and defend sharply contrasting positions. Solum brings learning from the philosophy of language to his argument in favor of originalism, and Bennett highlights interpretational problems in the dispute-resolution context, describing instances in which a living Constitution is a more feasible and productive position. The book explores those contrasting positions, to be sure, but also uncovers important points of agreement for the interpretational enterprise. This provocative and absorbing book ends with a bibliographic essay that points to landmark works in the field and helps lay readers and students orient themselves within the literature of the debate.
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Originalism

A Quarter-Century of Debate

Author: Steven G. Calabresi

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1596980605

Category: Political Science

Page: 360

View: 1417

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What did the Constitution mean at the time it was adopted? How should we interpret today the words used by the Founding Fathers? In ORIGINALISM: A QUARTER-CENTURY OF DEBATE, these questions are explained and dissected by the very people who continue to shape the legal structure of our country.This is a lively and fascinating discussion of an issue that has occupied the greatest legal minds in America, and one that continues to elicit strong reactions from both those who support and those who oppose the rule of law. Steven G. Calabresi, co-founder of the Federalist Society and professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law, has compiled an impressive collection of speeches, panel discussions, and debates from some of the greatest and most prominent legal experts of the last twenty-five years.
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The American Constitution and the Debate Over Originalism

Author: Dennis J. Goldford

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 9780521607797

Category: Law

Page: 305

View: 6317

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This is a work of constitutional theory that explores the nature of American constitutional interpretation through a reconsideration of the long-standing debate between the interpretive theories of originalism and nonoriginalism. The book presents the novel argument that a critique of the underlying premises of originalism dissolves not just originalism but nonoriginalism as well, which leads to the recognition that constitutional interpretation is already and always structured. By their fidelity to the Constitution, Americans are a textual people in that they live in and through the terms of a fundamental text. On the basis of this central idea, the book presents a new understanding of constitutional interpretation and an innovative account of the democratic legitimacy and binding capacity of the Constitution.
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Fidelity to Our Imperfect Constitution

For Moral Readings and Against Originalisms

Author: James E. Fleming

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199969469

Category: Law

Page: 280

View: 8696

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In recent years, some have asked "Are we all originalists now?" and many have assumed that originalists have a monopoly on concern for fidelity in constitutional interpretation. In Fidelity to Our Imperfect Constitution, James Fleming rejects originalisms-whether old or new, concrete or abstract, living or dead. Instead, he defends what Ronald Dworkin called a "moral reading" of the United States Constitution, or a "philosophic approach" to constitutional interpretation. He refers to conceptions of the Constitution as embodying abstract moral and political principles-not codifying concrete historical rules or practices-and of interpretation of those principles as requiring normative judgments about how they are best understood-not merely historical research to discover relatively specific original meanings. Through examining the spectacular concessions that originalists have made to their critics, he shows the extent to which even they acknowledge the need to make normative judgments in constitutional interpretation. Fleming argues that fidelity in interpreting the Constitution as written requires a moral reading or philosophic approach. Fidelity commits us to honoring our aspirational principles, not following the relatively specific original meanings (or original expected applications) of the founders. Originalists would enshrine an imperfect Constitution that does not deserve our fidelity. Only a moral reading or philosophic approach, which aspires to interpret our imperfect Constitution so as to make it the best it can be, gives us hope of interpreting it in a manner that may deserve our fidelity.
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A Debt Against the Living

Author: Ilan Wurman

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1108419801

Category: Law

Page: N.A

View: 751

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This book is an introduction to and defense of originalism and the Founding intended for a more general audience. No similar book exists. It is aimed at law students, advanced college students, policymakers, and the politically interested reader seeking a general introduction to originalism and its implications for today.
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Originalism's Promise

A Natural Law Account of the American Constitution

Author: Lee J. Strang

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1108475639

Category: History

Page: 225

View: 5892

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Provides the first natural law justification for an originalist interpretation of the American Constitution.
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The South's Role in the Creation of the Bill of Rights

Author: Robert J. Haws

Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi

ISBN: 1617030767

Category: African Americans

Page: 193

View: 5628

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The adoption of the Bill of Rights was the last step in defining the essential elements of American constitutionalism. The process began with the writing of the Constitution, continued through its ratification by the states, and culminated with the adoption of the Bill of Rights. In 1991 the bicentennial of the adoption of the Bill of Rights provided an occasion for examining the origins of this most important statement of individual rights in American history. Published on this anniversary, The South's Role in the Creation of the Bill of Rights sheds light on the paradoxical part the South played in the process of drafting and adopting this document. In cogent essays from the Chancellor's Symposium on Southern History held at the University of Mississippi in 1988 six noted experts in legal, constitutional, and southern history fill a gap in the literature of southern legal history for the period 1787-1791. The southern role is particularly important because political leaders in the South took the lead in promoting a bill of rights and at the same time vociferously defended the right to hold slaves. The essays in this book comprise a complete discussion of the writing and ratification of the Constitution and the adoption of the Bill of Rights in five southern seaboard states. They reveal the interplay of a desire to protect states' rights, a concern for the preservation of individual liberty, and a defensive attitude toward slavery that governed southern attitudes. These concerns dominated constitutional discourse until the Civil War. The South's peculiar "cultural constitutionalism" was first given definition in this period of American history, and as this book reveals, it initiated the process of setting the region apart from the rest of the United States. The events of these years were a necessary first step in establishing a southern regional identity. Robert J. Haws is Chair of the Department of Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi.
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Originalism in American Law and Politics

A Constitutional History

Author: Johnathan O'Neill,Professor Johnathan O'Neill

Publisher: JHU Press

ISBN: 9780801881114

Category: History

Page: 281

View: 9707

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This book explains how the debate over originalism emerged from the interaction of constitutional theory, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and American political development. Refuting the contention that originalism is a recent concoction of political conservatives like Robert Bork, Johnathan O'Neill asserts that recent appeals to the origin of the Constitution in Supreme Court decisions and commentary, especially by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, continue an established pattern in American history. Originalism in American Law and Politics is distinguished by its historical approach to the topic. Drawing on constitutional commentary and treatises, Supreme Court and lower federal court opinions, congressional hearings, and scholarly monographs, O'Neill's work will be valuable to historians, academic lawyers, and political scientists.
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Constitutional Interpretation

The Basic Questions

Author: Sotirios A. Barber,James E. Fleming

Publisher: OUP USA

ISBN: 0195328582

Category: Law

Page: 201

View: 2177

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Ronald Dworkin famously argued that fidelity in interpreting the Constitution as written calls for a fusion of constitutional law and moral philosophy. Barber and Fleming take up that call, arguing for a philosophic approach to constitutional interpretation. In doing so, they systematically critique the competing approaches - textualism, consensualism, originalism, structuralism, doctrinalism, minimalism, and pragmatism - that aim and claim to avoid a philosophic approach. Constitutional Interpretation: The Basic Questions illustrates that these approaches cannot avoid philosophic reflection and choice in interpreting the Constitution. Barber and Fleming contend that fidelity in constitutional interpretation requires a fusion of philosophic and other approaches, properly understood. Within such a fusion, interpreters would begin to think of text, consensus, intentions, structures, and doctrines not as alternatives to, but as sites of philosophic reflection about the best understanding of our constitutional commitments. Constitutional Interpretation: The Basic Questions examines the fundamental inquiries that arise in interpreting constitutional law. In doing so, the authors survey the controversial and intriguing questions that have stirred constitutional debate in the United States for over two centuries, such as: how and for what ends should governmental institutions and powers be arranged; what does the Constitution mean under general circumstances and how should it be interpreted during concrete controversies; and finally how do we decide what our constitution means and who ultimately decides its meaning.
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