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Legal History

2012

Robert G. Natelson

Articles 1 - 3 of 3

Full-Text Articles in Law

The Founders’ Hermeneutic: The Real Original Understanding Of Original Intent, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2012

The Founders’ Hermeneutic: The Real Original Understanding Of Original Intent, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This Article addresses whether the American Founders expected evidence of their own subjective views to guide future interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. The Article considers a range of evidence largely overlooked or misunderstood in earlier studies, such as contemporaneous rules of legal interpretation, judicial use of legislative history, early American public debate, and pronouncements by state ratifying conventions. Based on this evidence, the Article concludes that the Founders were “original-understanding originalists.” This means that they anticipated that constitutional interpretation would be guided by the subjective understanding of the ratifiers when such understanding was coherent and recoverable and, otherwise, by ...


A Republic, Not A Democracy? Initiative, Referendum, And The Constitution's Guarantee Clause, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2012

A Republic, Not A Democracy? Initiative, Referendum, And The Constitution's Guarantee Clause, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This article debunks the myth, first arising in the 1840s, that the Founders sharply distinguished between a "republic" and a "democracy." It explains that by a "republic," most of the Founders meant a government controlled by the citizenry, following the rule of law, and without a king. Accordingly, state provisions for initiative and referendum are fully consistent with the Constitution's requirement that each state have a republican form of government; in fact, most of the governments the Founders called "republics" had featured analogous forms of direct democracy.


Paper Money And The Original Understanding Of The Coinage Clause, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2012

Paper Money And The Original Understanding Of The Coinage Clause, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Over a century ago, the Supreme Court decided the Legal Tender Cases, holding that Congress could authorize legal tender paper money in addition to metallic coin. In recent years, some commentators have argued that this holding was incorrect as a matter of original understanding or original meaning, but that any other holding would be absolutely inconsistent with modern needs. They further argue that the impracticality of functioning without paper money demonstrates that originalism is not a workable method of constitutional interpretation. Those who rely on the Legal Tender Cases to discredit originalism are, however, in error. This Article shows that ...