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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Toward A "Due Foundation" For The Separation Of Powers: The Federalist Papers As Political Narrative, Victoria Nourse Feb 1996

Toward A "Due Foundation" For The Separation Of Powers: The Federalist Papers As Political Narrative, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

During the past quarter century, lawyers have become strangely comfortable with descriptions of our government's structure that would, to an untutored ear, speak contradiction. We are quite satisfied to say that governmental powers are separate and shared, departments distinct and overlapping, functions autonomous and interdependent. We have settled into these contradictions as we would a roomy chair: talking this way is no longer controversial but taken for granted, uttered with a knowing wink, perceived as the starting point of sophisticated analysis. A not "entirely separate," but "entirely free," set of departments is the only way we can think about ...


Constitutional Fictions And Meritocratic Success Stories, Robin West Jan 1996

Constitutional Fictions And Meritocratic Success Stories, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

L.H. LaRue demonstrates in his book, Constitutional Law as Fiction, that, at least in the realm of constitutional law, there is no simple correspondence between fiction and falsehood, or fact and truth. Partial or fictive accounts of our constitutional history, even when they are riddled with inaccuracies, may state deep truths about our world, and accurate recitations of historical events may be either intentionally or unintentionally misleading in the extreme. According to LaRue, the Supreme Court engages in a form of storytelling or myth-making that goes beyond the inevitably partial narratives of fact and precedent. The Supreme Court also ...


The Relevance Of The Framers’ Intent, Randy E. Barnett Jan 1996

The Relevance Of The Framers’ Intent, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Ever since the revival of interest in originalism that occurred in the 1980s, critics have 'charged that for a variety of reasons it is impractical, if not impossible, to determine the Framers' intentions. In addition, they argue that we today should not be bound by the intentions of a few men who lived and died over two-hundred years ago. In sum, adherence to original intent is rejected as being impractical, unjust, or both.

In this article, the author argues that we cannot assess either the practicality or the justice of discerning original intent without first asking why it is we ...