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Historical Gloss, Madisonian Liquidation, And The Originalism Debate, Curtis A. Bradley, Neil S. Siegel Jan 2020

Historical Gloss, Madisonian Liquidation, And The Originalism Debate, Curtis A. Bradley, Neil S. Siegel

Faculty Scholarship

The U.S. Constitution is old, relatively brief, and very difficult to amend. In its original form, the Constitution was primarily a framework for a new national government, and for 230 years the national government has operated under that framework even as conditions have changed in ways beyond the Founders’ conceivable imaginations. The framework has survived in no small part because government institutions have themselves played an important role in helping to fill in and clarify the framework through their practices and interactions, informed by the realities of governance. Courts, the political branches, and academic commentators commonly give weight to ...


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

Faculty Scholarship

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 ...


Response: Rights As Trumps Of What?, Joseph Blocher Jan 2019

Response: Rights As Trumps Of What?, Joseph Blocher

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Free Speech And Justified True Belief, Joseph Blocher Jan 2019

Free Speech And Justified True Belief, Joseph Blocher

Faculty Scholarship

Law often prioritizes justified true beliefs. Evidence, even if probative and correct, must have a proper foundation. Expert witness testimony must be the product of reliable principles and methods. Prosecutors are not permitted to trick juries into convicting a defendant, even if that defendant is truly guilty. Judges’ reasons, and not just the correctness of their holdings, are the engines of precedent. Lawyers are, in short, familiar with the notion that one must be right for the right reasons.

And yet the standard epistemic theory of the First Amendment—that the marketplace of ideas is the “best test of truth ...


Owning Heller, Darrell A. H. Miller Jan 2019

Owning Heller, Darrell A. H. Miller

Faculty Scholarship

Recent historical research using big-data techniques casts doubt on whether District of Columbia v. Heller was rightly decided according to originalist methods. These new discoveries put originalists in a bind. Do they embrace “faint hearted” originalism: the idea that as between the need for stability in prior decision making, settled expectations, and the coherence of the law, some adulterated decisions must remain enforced for the greater good? Or do they follow Justice Thomas’s reasoning in Gamble v. United States, remain stout-hearted, and reject any prior decision that cannot be supported by the common linguistic usage of the founding era ...


Grounding Originalism, William Baude, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2019

Grounding Originalism, William Baude, Stephen E. Sachs

Faculty Scholarship

How should we interpret the Constitution? The “positive turn” in legal scholarship treats constitutional interpretation, like the interpretation of statutes or contracts, as governed by legal rules grounded in actual practice. In our legal system, that practice requires a certain form of originalism: our system’s official story is that we follow the law of the Founding, plus all lawful changes made since.

Or so we’ve argued. Yet this answer produces its own set of questions. How can practice solve our problems, when there are so many theories of law, each giving practice a different role? Why look to ...


The Emergence Of The American Constitutional Law Tradition, H. Jefferson Powell Jan 2019

The Emergence Of The American Constitutional Law Tradition, H. Jefferson Powell

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Bans, Joseph Blocher Jan 2019

Bans, Joseph Blocher

Faculty Scholarship

In the universe of legal restrictions subject to judicial review, those characterized as fully denying some aspect of a constitutional right—bans—are often subject to per se rules of invalidity. Whether the subject of the restriction is a medium of expression, the valuable use of property, or a class of weapons, courts in such cases will often short-circuit the standard doctrinal machinery and strike down the law, even if it might have survived heightened scrutiny. Identifying laws as bans can thus provide an end run around the tiers of scrutiny and other familiar forms of means-ends analysis.

And yet ...


Constitutional Conflict And Sensitive Places, Darrell A. H. Miller Jan 2019

Constitutional Conflict And Sensitive Places, Darrell A. H. Miller

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Dying Constitutionalism And The Fourteenth Amendment, Ernest A. Young Jan 2019

Dying Constitutionalism And The Fourteenth Amendment, Ernest A. Young

Faculty Scholarship

The notion of a “living Constitution” often rests on an implicit assumption that important constitutional values will “grow” in such a way as to make the Constitution more attractive over time. But there are no guarantees: What can grow can also wither and die. This essay, presented as the 2018 Robert F. Boden Lecture at Marquette University Law School, marks the sesquicentennial of the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification as a powerful charter of liberty and equality for black Americans. But for much of its early history, the Fourteenth Amendment’s meaning moved in reverse, overwhelmed by the end of Reconstruction ...


The Well-Intentioned Purpose But Weak Epistemological Foundation Of Originalism, George C. Christie Jan 2019

The Well-Intentioned Purpose But Weak Epistemological Foundation Of Originalism, George C. Christie

Faculty Scholarship

The attraction of an originalist approach to constitutional interpretation is understandable. It is maintained that only that method can provide the judicial objectivity and certainty that constitutional adjudication requires. They claim that the traditional common-law evolutionary approach leads Supreme Court Justices to succumb to the temptation to fill in gaps in constitutional law and thereby ignore that major expansions in constitutional meaning and should be made in the way the Founders envisioned, namely by amendment of the Constitution. However difficult or impractical that process may be, it is the only way to avoid the politicization of the Court. Whether that ...


Doctrinal Dynamism, Borrowing, And The Relationship Between Rules And Rights, Joseph Blocher, Luke Morgan Jan 2019

Doctrinal Dynamism, Borrowing, And The Relationship Between Rules And Rights, Joseph Blocher, Luke Morgan

Faculty Scholarship

The study of "Rights Dynamism," exemplified in Timothy Zick' s new book on the First Amendment's relationship with the rest of the Bill of Rights, can enrich our understanding of constitutional rights. It also opens a door to another potentially fruitful arena: what we call "Doctrinal Dynamism." Constitutional rights often interact and generate new meanings and applications by way of importing and exporting one another's doctrinal rules, even when the rights themselves do not intersect directly in the context of a single case. Focusing on these doctrinal exchanges can illuminate the strengths and weaknesses of various rules, the ...


Dartmouth College V. Woodward And The Structure Of Civil Society, Ernest A. Young Jan 2019

Dartmouth College V. Woodward And The Structure Of Civil Society, Ernest A. Young

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


The Rights Of Marriage: Obergefell, Din, And The Future Of Constitutional Family Law, Kerry Abrams Jan 2018

The Rights Of Marriage: Obergefell, Din, And The Future Of Constitutional Family Law, Kerry Abrams

Faculty Scholarship

In the summer of 2015 the United States Supreme Court handed down two groundbreaking constitutional family law decisions. One decision became famous overnight Obergefell v. Hodges declared that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry. The other, Kerry v. Din, went largely overlooked. That later case concerned not the right to marry but the rights of marriage. In particular, it asked whether a person has a constitutional liberty interest in living with his or her spouse. This case is suddenly of paramount importance: executive orders targeting particular groups of immigrants implicate directly this right to family reunification.

This Article ...


The Constitutionality Of A National Wealth Tax, Dawn Johnsen, Walter Dellinger Jan 2018

The Constitutionality Of A National Wealth Tax, Dawn Johnsen, Walter Dellinger

Faculty Scholarship

Economic inequality threatens America’s constitutional democracy. Beyond obvious harms to our nation’s social fabric and people’s lives, soaring economic inequality translates into political inequality and corrodes democratic institutions and values. The coincident, relentless rise of money in politics exacerbates the problem. As elected officials and candidates meet skyrocketing campaign costs by devoting more and more time to political fundraising—and independent expenditures mushroom—Americans lose faith and withdraw from a system widely perceived as beholden to wealthy individuals and corporate interests.

The United States needs innovative approaches to help rebuild foundational, shared understandings of American democracy, the ...


Precedent And The Semblance Of Law, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2018

Precedent And The Semblance Of Law, Stephen E. Sachs

Faculty Scholarship

Like its author, Randy Kozel's *Settled Versus Right* is insightful, thoughtful, and kind, deeply committed to improving the world that it sees. But despite its upbeat tone, the book paints a dark picture of current law and the current Court. It depicts a society whose judges are, in a positive sense, *lawless* -- not because they disregard the law, but because they are without law, because they have no shared law to guide them. What they do share is an institution, a Court, whose commands are generally accepted. So *Settled Versus Right* makes the best of what we've got ...


The United States As An Idea: Constitutional Reflections, H. Jefferson Powell Jan 2018

The United States As An Idea: Constitutional Reflections, H. Jefferson Powell

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Puerto Rico And The Right Of Accession, Joseph Blocher, Mitu Gulati Jan 2018

Puerto Rico And The Right Of Accession, Joseph Blocher, Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

On June 11, 2017, Puerto Rico held a referendum on its legal status. Although turnout was low, 97% of ballots favored statehood, rather than independence or the status quo. The federal government, however, has financial and political reasons to resist this preference: Puerto Rico would bring with it a massive, unpayable debt, and the potential to swing the current balance of power in Congress.

The tension between Puerto Rico’s possible desire to pull closer to the mainland and Congress’s presumptive desire to hold it at arm’s length raises at least two important legal questions. Could Congress expel ...


The Constitutionality Of A National Wealth Tax, Dawn Johnsen, Walter E. Dellinger Iii Jan 2018

The Constitutionality Of A National Wealth Tax, Dawn Johnsen, Walter E. Dellinger Iii

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Sustaining Collective Self-Governance And Collective Action: A Constitutional Role Morality For Presidents And Members Of Congress, Neil S. Siegel Jan 2018

Sustaining Collective Self-Governance And Collective Action: A Constitutional Role Morality For Presidents And Members Of Congress, Neil S. Siegel

Faculty Scholarship

In the United States today, the behavior of the political branches is generally viewed as more damaging to the American constitutional system than is the behavior of the federal courts. Yet constitutional law scholarship continues to focus primarily on judges and judging. This Article suggests that such scholarship should develop for presidents and members of Congress what it has long advocated for judges: a role morality that imposes normative limits on the exercise of official discretion over and above strictly legal limits. The Article first grounds a role morality for federal elected officials in two purposes of the U.S ...


Political Norms, Constitutional Conventions, And President Donald Trump, Neil S. Siegel Jan 2018

Political Norms, Constitutional Conventions, And President Donald Trump, Neil S. Siegel

Faculty Scholarship

This symposium Essay argues that what is most troubling about the conduct of President Trump during and since the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign is not any potential violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal law. There likely have been some such violations, and there may be more. But what is most troubling about President Trump is his disregard of political norms that had previously constrained presidential candidates and Presidents, and his flouting of nonlegal but obligatory “constitutional conventions” that had previously guided and disciplined occupants of the White House. These norms and conventions, although not “in” the Constitution ...


Brief Of Amicus Curiae Children’S Law Clinic At Duke Law School Advocates For Children’S Services Of Legal Aid Of North Carolina Public Schools First Nc, Jane R. Wettach, Peggy Nicholson, K. Ricky Watson Jr., Celia Pistolis, Aisha Forte, Jennifer Story, Kevin Zhao Jan 2017

Brief Of Amicus Curiae Children’S Law Clinic At Duke Law School Advocates For Children’S Services Of Legal Aid Of North Carolina Public Schools First Nc, Jane R. Wettach, Peggy Nicholson, K. Ricky Watson Jr., Celia Pistolis, Aisha Forte, Jennifer Story, Kevin Zhao

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Cumulative Constitutional Rights, Kerry Abrams, Brandon L. Garrett Jan 2017

Cumulative Constitutional Rights, Kerry Abrams, Brandon L. Garrett

Faculty Scholarship

Cumulative constitutional rights are ubiquitous. Plaintiffs litigate multiple constitutional violations, or multiple harms, and judges use multiple constitutional provisions to inform interpretation. Yet judges, litigants, and scholars have often criticized the notion of cumulative rights, including in leading Supreme Court rulings, such as Lawrence v. Texas, Employment Division v. Smith, and Miranda v. Arizona. Recently, the Court attempted to clarify some of this confusion. In its landmark opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage by pointing to several distinct but overlapping protections inherent in the Due Process Clause, including the right to individual ...


Doing Gloss, Curtis A. Bradley Jan 2017

Doing Gloss, Curtis A. Bradley

Faculty Scholarship

It is common for courts, the political branches, and academic commentators to look to historical governmental practices when interpreting the separation of powers. There has been relatively little attention, however, to the proper methodology for invoking such “historical gloss.” This Essay contends that, in order to gain traction on the methodological questions, we need to begin by considering the potential justifications for crediting gloss. For judicial application of gloss, which is this Essay’s principal focus, there are at least four such justifications: deference to the constitutional views of nonjudicial actors; limits on judicial capacity; Burkean consequentialism; and reliance interests ...


What Can Europe Tell Us About The Future Of American Federalism?, Ernest A. Young Jan 2017

What Can Europe Tell Us About The Future Of American Federalism?, Ernest A. Young

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Reciprocal Legitimation In The Federal Courts System, Neil S. Siegel Jan 2017

Reciprocal Legitimation In The Federal Courts System, Neil S. Siegel

Faculty Scholarship

Much scholarship in law and political science has long understood the U.S. Supreme Court to be the “apex” court in the federal judicial system, and so to relate hierarchically to “lower” federal courts. On that top-down view, exemplified by the work of Alexander Bickel and many subsequent scholars, the Court is the principal, and lower federal courts are its faithful agents. Other scholarship takes a bottom-up approach, viewing lower federal courts as faithless agents or analyzing the “percolation” of issues in those courts before the Court decides. This Article identifies circumstances in which the relationship between the Court and ...


Originalism Without Text, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2017

Originalism Without Text, Stephen E. Sachs

Faculty Scholarship

Originalism is not about the text. Though the theory is often treated as a way to read the Constitution’s words, that conventional view is misleading. A society can be recognizably originalist without any words to interpret: without a written constitution, written statutes, or any writing at all. If texts aren’t fundamental to originalism, then originalism isn’t fundamentally about texts. Avoiding that error helps us see what originalism generally is about: namely, our present constitutional law, and its dependence on a crucial moment in the past.


Puerto Rico And The Netherworld Of Sovereign Debt Restructuring, Mitu Gulati, Robert K. Rasmussen Jan 2017

Puerto Rico And The Netherworld Of Sovereign Debt Restructuring, Mitu Gulati, Robert K. Rasmussen

Faculty Scholarship

Puerto Rico has incurred debt well beyond its ability to repay. It attempted to address its fiscal woes through legislation allowing the restructuring of some its debt. The Supreme Court put a stop to this effort, holding that Congress in the Bankruptcy Code barred the Commonwealth from enacting its own restructuring regime. Yet all agreed that the Bankruptcy Code did not provide anything in its place. While Congress quickly enacted PROMESA in an attempt to address the Puerto Rico’s fiscal ills, we explore in this paper whether Congress has the power to bar Puerto Rico from enacting a restructuring ...


Brief Of Amici Curiae Federal Courts Scholars And Southeastern Legal Foundation In Support Of Respondents, Kimberly S. Hermann, Ernest A. Young Jan 2016

Brief Of Amici Curiae Federal Courts Scholars And Southeastern Legal Foundation In Support Of Respondents, Kimberly S. Hermann, Ernest A. Young

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Second Amendment Traditionalism And Desuetude, Darrell A. H. Miller Jan 2016

Second Amendment Traditionalism And Desuetude, Darrell A. H. Miller

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.