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Full-Text Articles in Law

Originalist Theory And Precedent: A Public Meaning Approach, Lawrence B. Solum Oct 2018

Originalist Theory And Precedent: A Public Meaning Approach, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Much ink has already been spilled on the relationship of constitutional originalism to precedent (or, more specifically, the doctrine of stare decisis). The debate includes contributions from Randy Barnett, Steven Calabresi, Kurt Lash, Gary Lawson, John McGinnis with Michael Rappaport, Michael Paulsen, and Lee Strang, not to mention Justice Antonin Scalia—all representing originalism in some form. Living constitutionalism has also been represented both implicitly and explicitly, with important contributions from Phillip Bobbitt, Ronald Dworkin, Michael Gerhardt, Randy Kozel, and David Strauss. Some writers are more difficult to classify; Akhil Amar comes to mind. And there are many other contributions ...


Special Justifications, Randy J. Kozel Oct 2018

Special Justifications, Randy J. Kozel

Journal Articles

The Supreme Court commonly asks whether there is a “special justification” for departing from precedent. In this Response, which is part of a Constitutional Commentary symposium on Settled Versus Right: A Theory of Precedent, I examine the existing law of special justifications and describe its areas of uncertainty. I also compare the Court’s current doctrine with a revised approach to special justifications designed to separate the question of overruling from deeper disagreements about legal interpretation. The aspiration is to establish precedent as a unifying force that enhances the impersonality of the Court and of the law, promoting values the ...


Mostly Settled, But Right For Now, Corinna Lain Jan 2018

Mostly Settled, But Right For Now, Corinna Lain

Law Faculty Publications

Randy Kozel’s book, Settled Versus Right: A Theory of Precedent, is a laudable effort to make the law more stable, more cohesive, more impersonal — an effort to show that the law can endure even as Justices come and go. The core of his contribution is a proposed doctrine of stare decisis that disentangles deference to precedent from the interpretive methodologies that led to the precedent in the first place, and that so often determine the amount of deference a precedent gets. As a purely doctrinal project, Settled Versus Right naturally assumes that if we fix the doctrine, we’ll ...


Our Principled Constitution, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2018

Our Principled Constitution, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Suppose that one of us contends, and the other denies, that transgender persons have constitutional rights to be treated in accord with their gender identity. It appears that we are disagreeing about “what the law is.” And, most probably, we disagree about what the law is on this matter because we disagree about what generally makes it the case that our constitutional law is this rather than that.

Constitutional theory should provide guidance. It should endeavor to explain what gives our constitutional rules the contents that they have, or what makes true constitutional propositions true. Call any such account a ...


To Speak Or Not To Speak, That Is Your Liberty: Janus V. Afscme, David Forte Jan 2018

To Speak Or Not To Speak, That Is Your Liberty: Janus V. Afscme, David Forte

Law Faculty Articles and Essays

Some Supreme Court precedents go through extensive death spasms before being interred. Lochner v. New York, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce come to mind. Others like Chisholm v. Georgia and Minersville School District v. Gobitis incurred a swift and summary execution. Still others, overtaken by subsequent cases, remain wraith-like presences among the Court’s past acts: Beauharnais v. Illinois and Buck v. Bell, for example, remain “on the books.”


Precedent And Constitutional Structure, Randy J. Kozel Jan 2018

Precedent And Constitutional Structure, Randy J. Kozel

Journal Articles

The Constitution does not talk about precedent, at least not explicitly, but several of its features suggest a place for deference to prior decisions. It isolates the judicial function and insulates federal courts from official and electoral control, promoting a vision of impersonality and continuity. It charges courts with applying a charter that is vague and ambiguous in important respects. And it was enacted at a time when prominent thinkers were already discussing the use of precedent to channel judicial discretion. Taken in combination, these features make deference to precedent a sound inference from the Constitution’s structure, text, and ...