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Georgetown University Law Center

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Taking Text Too Seriously: Modern Textualism, Original Meaning, And The Case Of Amar's Bill Of Rights, William Michael Treanor Jan 2007

Taking Text Too Seriously: Modern Textualism, Original Meaning, And The Case Of Amar's Bill Of Rights, William Michael Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Championed on the Supreme Court by Justices Scalia and Thomas and championed in academia most prominently by Professor Akhil Amar, textualism has in the past twenty years emerged as a leading school of constitutional interpretation. Textualists argue that the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with its original public meaning and, in seeking that meaning, they closely parse the Constitution's words and grammar and the placement of clauses in the document. They have assumed that this close parsing recaptures original meaning, but, perhaps because it seems obviously correct, that assumption has neither been defended nor challenged. This article uses ...