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Full-Text Articles in Law

Originalism And The Law Of The Past, William Baude, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2019

Originalism And The Law Of The Past, William Baude, Stephen E. Sachs

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Originalism has long been criticized for its “law office history” and other historical sins. But a recent “positive turn” in originalist thought may help make peace between history and law. On this theory, originalism is best understood as a claim about our modern law — which borrows many of its rules, constitutional or otherwise, from the law of the past. Our law happens to be the Founders’ law, unless lawfully changed.

This theory has three important implications for the role of history in law. First, whether and how past law matters today is a question of current law, not of history ...


James Dewitt Andrews: Classifying The Law In The Early Twentieth Century*, Richard A. Danner Jan 2017

James Dewitt Andrews: Classifying The Law In The Early Twentieth Century*, Richard A. Danner

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This paper examines the efforts of New York lawyer James DeWitt Andrews and others to create a new classification system for American law in the early years of the twentieth century. Inspired by fragments left by founding father James Wilson, Andrews worked though the American Bar Association and organized independent projects to classify the law. A controversial figure, whose motives were often questioned, Andrews engaged the support and at times the antagonism of prominent legal figures such as John H. Wigmore, Roscoe Pound, and William Howard Taft before his plans ended with the founding of the American Law Institute in ...


Originalism’S Bite, William Baude, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2016

Originalism’S Bite, William Baude, Stephen E. Sachs

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Is originalism toothless? Richard Posner seems to think so. He writes that repeated theorizing by "intelligent originalists," one of us happily included, has rendered the theory "incoherent" and capable of supporting almost any result. We appreciate the attention, but we fear we've been misunderstood. Our view is that originalism permits arguments from precedent, changed circumstances, or whatever you like, but only to the extent that they lawfully derive from the law of the founding. This kind of originalism, surprisingly common in American legal practice, is catholic in theory but exacting in application. It might look tame, but it has ...


Originalism As A Theory Of Legal Change, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2015

Originalism As A Theory Of Legal Change, Stephen E. Sachs

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Originalism is usually defended as a theory of interpretation. This Article presents a different view. Originalism ought to be defended, if at all, not based on normative goals or abstract philosophy, but as a positive theory of American legal practice, and particularly of our rules for legal change.

One basic assumption of legal systems is that the law, whatever it is, stays the same until it's lawfully changed. Originalism begins this process with an origin, a Founding. Whatever rules we had when the Constitution was adopted, we still have today -- unless something happened that was authorized to change them ...


Saving Originalism’S Soul, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2014

Saving Originalism’S Soul, Stephen E. Sachs

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No abstract provided.