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Full-Text Articles in Jurisprudence

The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2019

The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The topic of this panel is the Declaration of Independence, to which I devoted a chapter of my recent book, Our Republican Constitution. I want to draw on that book to make five points.


Originalism And Second-Order Ipse Dixit Reasoning In Chisholm V. Georgia, D. A. Jeremy Telman Dec 2018

Originalism And Second-Order Ipse Dixit Reasoning In Chisholm V. Georgia, D. A. Jeremy Telman

D. A. Jeremy Telman


This Article presents a new perspective on the Supreme Court’s constitutional jurisprudence during the Early Republic.  It focuses on what I am calling second-order ipse dixit reasoning, which occurs when Justices have to decide between two incommensurable interpretive modalities.  If first-order ipse dixit is unreasoned decision-making, second-order ipse dixit involves an unreasoned choice between or among two or more equally valid interpretive options.  The early Court often had recourse to second-order ipse dixit because methodological eclecticism characterized its constitutional jurisprudence, and the early Court established no fixed hierarchy among interpretive modalities.
Chisholm, the pre-Marshall Court’s most important constitutional ...


All That Is Liquidated Melts Into Air: Five Meta-Interpretive Issues, D. A. Jeremy Telman Dec 2018

All That Is Liquidated Melts Into Air: Five Meta-Interpretive Issues, D. A. Jeremy Telman

D. A. Jeremy Telman


The promise of originalism is that it helps us to fix constitutional meaning and constrain constitutional decision-makers.  There are significant constitutional questions that originalism can help resolve, at least to the extent that constitutional decision-makers buy in to originalism. However, even assuming that originalism is normatively desirable, there are certain issues that are fundamental to constitutional decision-making but that originalism cannot help us resolve. The Framers were hopelessly divided on them, and they may not be susceptible to Madisonian “liquidation.”  That is, at least some of these issues still generate live controversies even though they some of them seem to ...


Originalism And Congressional Power To Enforce The Fourteenth Amendment, Christopher W. Schmidt Oct 2018

Originalism And Congressional Power To Enforce The Fourteenth Amendment, Christopher W. Schmidt

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

In this Essay, I argue that originalism conflicts with the Supreme Court’s current jurisprudence defining the scope of Congress’ power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment. Under the standard established in Boerne v. Flores, the Court limits congressional power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to statutory remedies premised on judicially defined interpretations of Fourteenth Amendment rights. A commitment to originalism as a method of judicial constitutional interpretation challenges the premise of judicial interpretive supremacy in Section 5 jurisprudence in two ways. First, as a matter of history, an originalist reading of Section 5 provides support for broad judicial ...


Justice Scalia's Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence: An Unabashed Foe Of Criminal Defendants, Michael Vitiello Jul 2017

Justice Scalia's Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence: An Unabashed Foe Of Criminal Defendants, Michael Vitiello

Akron Law Review

Justice Scalia’s death has already produced a host of commentary on his career. Depending on the issue, Justice Scalia’s legacy is quite complicated. Justice Scalia’s commitment to originalism explains at least some of his pro-defendant positions. Some of his supporters point to such examples to support a claim that Justice Scalia was principled in his application of his jurisprudential philosophy. However, in one area, Justice Scalia was an unabashed foe of criminal defendants: his Eighth Amendment jurisprudential dealing with terms of imprisonment. There, based on his reading of the historical record, he argued that the Eighth Amendment ...


For Legal Principles, Mitchell N. Berman Jun 2017

For Legal Principles, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Most legal thinkers believe that legal rules and legal principles are meaningfully distinguished. Many jurists may have no very precise distinction in mind, and those who do might not all agree. But it is widely believed that legal norms come in different logical types, and that one difference is reasonably well captured by a nomenclature that distinguishes “rules” from “principles.” Larry Alexander is the foremost challenger to this bit of legal-theoretic orthodoxy. In several articles, but especially in “Against Legal Principles,” an influential article co-authored with Ken Kress two decades ago, Alexander has argued that legal principles cannot exist.

In ...


The Tragedy Of Justice Scalia, Mitchell N. Berman Apr 2017

The Tragedy Of Justice Scalia, Mitchell N. Berman

Michigan Law Review

Review of A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law by Antonin Scalia .


The Tragedy Of Justice Scalia, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2017

The Tragedy Of Justice Scalia, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Justice Antonin Scalia was, by the time of his death last February, the Supreme Court’s best known and most influential member. He was also its most polarizing, a jurist whom most students of American law either love or hate. This essay, styled as a twenty-year retrospective on A Matter of Interpretation, Scalia’s Tanner lectures on statutory and constitutional interpretation, aims to prod partisans on both sides of our central legal and political divisions to better appreciate at least some of what their opponents see—the other side of Scalia’s legacy. Along the way, it critically assesses Scalia ...


Justice Antonin Scalia’S Flawed Originalist Justification For Brown V. Board Of Education, Ronald Turner Jan 2017

Justice Antonin Scalia’S Flawed Originalist Justification For Brown V. Board Of Education, Ronald Turner

Washington University Jurisprudence Review

This article examines Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner’s originalist justification of Brown v. Board of Education in Reading Law, concluding that their analysis is flawed in at least three respects: (1) their interpretation that the texts of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibited all white-supremacist and separationist laws is atextual, acontextual, and ahistorical; (2) their invocation of Justice Harlan and his Plessy dissent does not support, but actually cuts against their understanding of the original understanding; and (3) relying on a single and critiqued article, with no reference to that criticism, they fail to support their conclusion that ...


The African-American Interest In Higher Law In The Supreme Court: Justices Marshall And Thomas, D. A. Jeremy Telman Dec 2016

The African-American Interest In Higher Law In The Supreme Court: Justices Marshall And Thomas, D. A. Jeremy Telman

D. A. Jeremy Telman

This paper was written for a Festschrift in honor of Henry J. Richardson III. It reviews the constitutional jurisprudence of Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas from the perspective of Professor Richardson’s presentation of an African-American interest in higher law. Both African-American Supreme Court Justices’ constitutional jurisprudence is informed by higher law norms as well as by positive law. The paper contrasts Justice Marshall’s approach, which evaluates legal norms in particular socio-legal contexts, with Justice Thomas’s principled adherence to procedural rules. The paper contends that Professor Richardson’s approach to legal history better accords with Justice Marshall ...


Constitutional Borrowing, Nelson Tebbe, Robert L. Tsai Nov 2016

Constitutional Borrowing, Nelson Tebbe, Robert L. Tsai

Robert L Tsai

Borrowing from one domain to promote ideas in another domain is a staple of constitutional decisionmaking. Precedents, arguments, concepts, tropes, and heuristics all can be carried across doctrinal boundaries for purposes of persuasion. Yet the practice itself remains underanalyzed. This Article seeks to bring greater theoretical attention to the matter It defines what constitutional borrowing is and what it is not, presents a typology that describes its common forms, undertakes a principled defense of borrowing, and identifies some of the risks involved. Our examples draw particular attention to places where legal mechanisms and ideas migrate between fields of law associated ...


James Wilson In The State House Yard: Ratifying The Structures Of Popular Sovereignty, Ian C. Bartrum Jan 2016

James Wilson In The State House Yard: Ratifying The Structures Of Popular Sovereignty, Ian C. Bartrum

Scholarly Works

There is an excellent (and rapidly growing) literature examining the influence of James Wilson's Scottish philosophical education on his later political ideas. In this Article, Professor Ian Bartrum makes two contributions to that scholarship. First, he reexamines several of the most important Scottish moral sentimentalists with a particular focus on the specific ontological and epistemological accounts that influenced Wilson. Second, he dissolves the seeming contradictions in Wilson's political thought by showing that, while he understood that representative bodies were essential to legitimate government, he nonetheless distrusted these institutions because they work to obscure, or even subvert, their members ...


Originalism: A Thing Worth Doing . . ., D. A. Jeremy Telman Dec 2015

Originalism: A Thing Worth Doing . . ., D. A. Jeremy Telman

D. A. Jeremy Telman

Originalism in constitutional interpretation continues to grow in its reach, sophistication, practical applicability, and popular support. Although originalism first developed in the 1960s as a doctrine of judicial modesty, originalist judges are now far more confident of their ability to discern the Constitution’s original meaning and thus are willing to strike down legislative enactments inconsistent with that meaning. Two aphorisms by the leading practitioners of originalism sum up originalism’s journey. Justice Scalia, writing in the 1980s, conceded that originalism was merely “the lesser evil” and consoled himself with the Chestertonian dictum that “a thing worth doing is worth ...


Dividing Crime, Multiplying Punishments, John F. Stinneford Nov 2015

Dividing Crime, Multiplying Punishments, John F. Stinneford

John F. Stinneford

When the government wants to impose exceptionally harsh punishment on a criminal defendant, one of the ways it accomplishes this goal is to divide the defendant’s single course of conduct into multiple offenses that give rise to multiple punishments. The Supreme Court has rendered the Double Jeopardy Clause, the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, and the rule of lenity incapable of handling this problem by emptying them of substantive content and transforming them into mere instruments for effectuation of legislative will. This Article demonstrates that all three doctrines originally reflected a substantive legal preference for life and liberty, and ...


Dividing Crime, Multiplying Punishments, John F. Stinneford Jun 2015

Dividing Crime, Multiplying Punishments, John F. Stinneford

UF Law Faculty Publications

When the government wants to impose exceptionally harsh punishment on a criminal defendant, one of the ways it accomplishes this goal is to divide the defendant’s single course of conduct into multiple offenses that give rise to multiple punishments. The Supreme Court has rendered the Double Jeopardy Clause, the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, and the rule of lenity incapable of handling this problem by emptying them of substantive content and transforming them into mere instruments for effectuation of legislative will.

This Article demonstrates that all three doctrines originally reflected a substantive legal preference for life and liberty, and ...


The Original Meaning Of "God": Using The Language Of The Framing Generation To Create A Coherent Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, Michael I. Meyerson Apr 2015

The Original Meaning Of "God": Using The Language Of The Framing Generation To Create A Coherent Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, Michael I. Meyerson

All Faculty Scholarship

The Supreme Court’s attempt to create a standard for evaluating whether the Establishment Clause is violated by religious governmental speech, such as the public display of the Ten Commandments or the Pledge of Allegiance, is a total failure. The Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence has been termed “convoluted,” “a muddled mess,” and “a polite lie.” Unwilling to either allow all governmental religious speech or ban it entirely, the Court is in need of a coherent standard for distinguishing the permissible from the unconstitutional. Thus far, no Justice has offered such a standard.

A careful reading of the history of ...


A Nonoriginalist Perspective On The Lessons Of History, Michael C. Dorf Feb 2015

A Nonoriginalist Perspective On The Lessons Of History, Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf

No abstract provided.


The Fixation Thesis: The Role Of Historical Fact In Original Meaning, Lawrence B. Solum Feb 2015

The Fixation Thesis: The Role Of Historical Fact In Original Meaning, Lawrence B. Solum

Lawrence B. Solum

The central debate in contemporary constitutional theory is the clash between originalists and living constitutionalists. Originalism is the view that the original meaning of the constitutional text should constrain or bind constitutional practice—paradigmatically, the decision of constitutional cases by the United States Supreme Court. Living constitutionalists contend that the content of constitutional law should evolve over time in response to changing values and circumstances. One of the central questions in this debate is over the question whether the meaning of the constitutional text is fixed or changeable. This essay makes the case for the Fixation Thesis—the claim that ...


The Limits Of Second Amendment Originalism And The Constitutional Case For Gun Control, Lawrence Rosenthal Jan 2015

The Limits Of Second Amendment Originalism And The Constitutional Case For Gun Control, Lawrence Rosenthal

Washington University Law Review

The Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), reshaped decades of Second Amendment precedent and jurisprudence. Using a strictly originalist methodology, the Court in Heller appeared to embrace a largely unqualified right of every person to possess and carry any firearm in common civilian use. Heller seemed to promise the dawn of Second Amendment originalism unencumbered by the nonoriginalist balancing tests and standards of scrutiny common in other areas of constitutional law, but lacking any grounding in the original meaning of the Constitution’s text.

Nevertheless, in Heller’s wake, the ...


Two Dogmas Of Originalism, Ian C. Bartrum Jan 2015

Two Dogmas Of Originalism, Ian C. Bartrum

Scholarly Works

In the early 1950s, Willlard Quine’s Two Dogmas of Empiricism offered a devastating critique of logical positivism and the effort to distinguish “science” from “metaphysics.” Quine demonstrated that the positivists relied on dogmatic oversimplifications of both the world and human practices, and, in the end, suggested that our holistic natural experience cannot be reduced to purely logical explanations. In this piece, I argue that constitutional originalism—which, too, seeks to define a constitutional “science”—relies on similar dogmatisms. In particular, I contend that the “fixation thesis,” which claims that the constitutional judge’s first task is to fix the ...


Judge Posner’S Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2015

Judge Posner’S Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The world is complex, Richard Posner observes in his most recent book, Reflections on Judging. It follows that, to resolve real-world disputes sensibly, judges must be astute students of the world’s complexity. The problem, he says, is that, thanks to disposition, training, and professional incentives, they aren’t. Worse than that, the legal system generates its own complexity precisely to enable judges “to avoid rather than meet and overcome the challenge of complexity” that the world delivers. Reflections concerns how judges needlessly complexify inherently simple law, and how this complexification can be corrected.

Posner’s diagnoses and prescriptions range ...


It's The Constitution, Stupid: Two Liberals Pay Tribute To Antonin Scalia's Legacy, Adam Lamparello, Charles E. Maclean May 2014

It's The Constitution, Stupid: Two Liberals Pay Tribute To Antonin Scalia's Legacy, Adam Lamparello, Charles E. Maclean

Adam Lamparello

Living constitutionalism may achieve “good” results, but with each Roe v. Wade, and Bush v. Gore, the Constitution’s vision takes more shallow breaths, and democracy fades into elitism’s shadow. The debate over constitutional interpretation is, in many ways, reducible to this question: if a particular outcome is desirable, and the Constitution’s text is silent or ambiguous, should the United States Supreme Court (or any court) disregard constitutional constraints to achieve that outcome? If the answer is yes, nine unelected judges have the power to choose outcomes that are desirable. If the answer is no, then the focus ...


It's The Constitution, Stupid: Two Liberals Pay Tribute To Antonin Scalia's Legacy, Adam Lamparello, Charles E. Maclean May 2014

It's The Constitution, Stupid: Two Liberals Pay Tribute To Antonin Scalia's Legacy, Adam Lamparello, Charles E. Maclean

Adam Lamparello

Living constitutionalism may achieve “good” results, but with each Roe v. Wade, and Bush v. Gore, the Constitution’s vision takes more shallow breaths, and democracy fades into elitism’s shadow. The debate over constitutional interpretation is, in many ways, reducible to this question: if a particular outcome is desirable, and the Constitution’s text is silent or ambiguous, should the United States Supreme Court (or any court) disregard constitutional constraints to achieve that outcome? If the answer is yes, nine unelected judges have the power to choose outcomes that are desirable. If the answer is no, then the focus ...


Justice Sotomayor's Undemocratic Dissent In Schuette V. Coalition To Defend Affirmative Action, Adam Lamparello May 2014

Justice Sotomayor's Undemocratic Dissent In Schuette V. Coalition To Defend Affirmative Action, Adam Lamparello

Adam Lamparello

There are compelling reasons to support affirmative action programs. The effects of racial discrimination, and racism itself, remain prevalent throughout the country. Pretending otherwise would be to ignore reality. Arguing that the equal protection clause compels a state to implement race-based affirmative action programs, however, would make a mockery of the Constitution. Former Supreme Court Justice Hughes famously stated, “at the constitutional level where we work, 90 percent of any decision is emotional.” The remaining 10 percent is “[t]he rational part … [that] supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections.” It is time for this type of judging to end ...


Two Dogmas Of Originalism, Ian C. Bartrum Feb 2014

Two Dogmas Of Originalism, Ian C. Bartrum

Ian C Bartrum

In the early 1950s, Willlard Quine’s Two Dogmas of Empiricism offered a devastating critique of logical positivism and the effort to distinguish “science” from “metaphysics”. Quine demonstrated that positivists relied on dogmatic oversimplifications of both the world and human practices, and, in the end, suggested that our holistic natural experience cannot be reduced to purely logical explanations. In this piece, I argue that constitutional originalism—which, too, seeks to define a constitutional “science”—relies on similar dogmatisms. In particular, I contend that the “fixation thesis,” which claims that the constitutional judge’s first task is to fix the text ...


The Means Principle, Larry Alexander Jan 2014

The Means Principle, Larry Alexander

School of Law: Faculty Scholarship

Michael Moore believes there are deontological constraints on actors’ pursuit of good consequences. He believes these constraints are best conceived of as agent-relative prohibitions such as “you must not intentionally kill, batter, rape, steal, etc.” I, joined in recent years by Kimberly Ferzan, believe that the best interpretation of deontological constraints — the interpretation that best accounts for our intuitions about certain stock cases — is that they are constraints on the causal means by which good consequences may be achieved. We believe those constraints can be unified under a single deontological principle, what we call the “means principle.” It forbids actors ...


Restoring Constitutional Equilibrium, Adam Lamparello Jan 2014

Restoring Constitutional Equilibrium, Adam Lamparello

Adam Lamparello

In areas such as the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court's lack of institutional restraint has affected citizens of every political persuasion. In Bush v. Gore, the Florida Supreme Court’s recount order was blocked. ‘Liberals,’ lost. In Roe v. Wade, the Court required state legislatures to allow most abortions in the first trimester. ‘Conservatives’ lost. In Clinton v. City of New York and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the coordinate branch’s attempt to ensure a more efficient and fairer government was thwarted. Average citizens lost. The problem is not a liberal or conservative one, whatever those words ...


Putting Progress Back Into Progressive: Reclaiming A Philosophy Of History For The Constitution, David Aram Kaiser Jan 2014

Putting Progress Back Into Progressive: Reclaiming A Philosophy Of History For The Constitution, David Aram Kaiser

Washington University Jurisprudence Review

No abstract provided.


The Limits Of Textualism In Interpreting The Confrontation Clause, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2014

The Limits Of Textualism In Interpreting The Confrontation Clause, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


Originalism And The Necessary And Proper Clause, John T. Valauri Feb 2013

Originalism And The Necessary And Proper Clause, John T. Valauri

John T. Valauri

This article analyzes a largely unacknowledged and, therefore, unsolved problem in constitutional theory and doctrine—the problem of multiplicity of meanings (i.e., encountering multiple conflicting meanings in practice when your doctrine or theory postulates just one). It does this by examining and comparing the debate over the meaning of the Necessary and Proper Clause in constitutional doctrine and the New Originalism’s notion of original public meaning in constitutional theory in order to help us get beyond the false and misleading assumptions underlying and motivating the myth of unitary meaning. It contrasts the role of the public and the ...