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Articles 1 - 9 of 9

Full-Text Articles in Legal History

The Constitution And Legislative History, Victoria Nourse Jan 2014

The Constitution And Legislative History, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this article, the author provides an extended analysis of the constitutional claims against legislative history, arguing that, under textualists’ own preference for constitutional text, the use of legislative history should be constitutional to the extent it is supported by Congress’s rulemaking power, a constitutionally enumerated power.

This article has five parts. In part I, the author explains the importance of this question, considering the vast range of cases to which this claim of unconstitutionality could possibly apply—after all, statutory interpretation cases are the vast bulk of the work of the federal courts. She also explains why these ...


J. Skelly Wright And The Limits Of Liberalism, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2014

J. Skelly Wright And The Limits Of Liberalism, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay, written for a symposium on the life and work of United States Court of Appeals Judge J. Skelly Wright, makes four points. First, Judge Wright was an important participant in the liberal legal tradition. The tradition sought to liberate law from arid formalism and to use it as a technique for progressive reform. However, legal liberals also believed that there were limits on what judges could do–-limits rooted in both its liberalism and its legalism. Second, Wright occupied a position on the left fringe of the liberal legal tradition, and he therefore devoted much of his career ...


Originalism And The Unwritten Constitution, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2013

Originalism And The Unwritten Constitution, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In his book, America’s Unwritten Constitution, Akhil Reed Amar contends that to properly engage the written Constitution, scholars and laymen alike must look to extratextual sources: among them America’s founding documents, institutional practices, and ethos, all of which constitute Amar’s “unwritten Constitution.” In this article, the author argues that contemporary originalist constitutional theory is consistent with reliance on extraconstitutional sources in certain circumstances. He establishes a framework for revaluating the use of extratextual sources. That framework categorizes extratextual sources and explains their relevance to constitutional interpretation (the meaning of the text) and constitutional construction (elaboration of constitutional ...


Is Law? Constitutional Crisis And Existential Anxiety, Alice G. Ristroph Jan 2009

Is Law? Constitutional Crisis And Existential Anxiety, Alice G. Ristroph

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In the recurring discussions of constitutional crises, one may find three forms of existential anxiety. The first, and most fleeting, is an anxiety about the continued existence of the nation. A second form of anxiety—to my mind, the most interesting form—is an anxiety about the possibility of the rule of law itself. Third, and most solipsistically, references to crisis in constitutional law scholarship could be the product of a kind of professional anxiety in the legal academy. We may be asking ourselves, “Constitutional theory: what is it good for?” and worrying that the answer is, “Absolutely nothing.” And ...


Constitutional Possibilities, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2008

Constitutional Possibilities, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

What are our constitutional possibilities? The importance of this question is illustrated by the striking breadth of recent discussions, ranging from the interpretation of the United States Constitution as a guarantee of fundamental economic equality and proposals to restore the lost constitution to arguments for the virtual abandonment of structural provisions of the Constitution of 1789. Such proposals are conventionally understood as placing constitutional options on the table as real options for constitutional change. Normative constitutional theory asks the question whether these options are desirable--whether political actors (citizens, legislators, executives, or judges) should take action to bring about their plans ...


Originalism And The Natural Born Citizen Clause, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2007

Originalism And The Natural Born Citizen Clause, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The enigmatic phrase "natural born citizen" poses a series of problems for contemporary originalism. New originalists, like Justice Scalia, focus on the public meaning of the constitutional text, but the notion of a "natural born citizen" was likely a term of art, derived from the idea of a "natural born subject" in English law--a category that most likely did not extend to persons, like John McCain, who were born outside sovereign territory. But the constitution speaks of "citizens" and not "subjects," introducing uncertainties and ambiguities that might (or might not) make McCain eligible for the presidency.

What was the original ...


Constitutional Texting, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2006

Constitutional Texting, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

"Constitutional Texting" introduces an account of constitutional meaning that draws on Paul Grice's distinction between "speaker's meaning" and "sentence meaning." The constitutional equivalent of speaker's meaning is "framer's meaning," the meaning that the author of the constitutional text intended to convey in light of the author's beliefs about the reader's beliefs about the author's intentions. The constitutional equivalent of sentence meaning is "clause meaning," the meaning that an ordinary reader would attribute to the text at the time of utterance without any beliefs about particular intentions on the part of the author. Clause ...


Judicial Review Before Marbury, William Michael Treanor Jan 2005

Judicial Review Before Marbury, William Michael Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

While scholars have long probed the original understanding of judicial review and the early judicial review case law, this article presents a study of the judicial review case law in the United States before Marbury v. Madison that is dramatically more complete than prior work and that challenges previous scholarship on the original understanding of judicial review on the two most critical dimensions: how well judicial review was established at the time of the Founding and when it was exercised. Where prior work argues that judicial review was rarely exercised before Marbury (or that it was created in Marbury), this ...


The Authoritarian Impulse In Constitutional Law, Robin West Jan 1988

The Authoritarian Impulse In Constitutional Law, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Should there be greater participation by legislators and citizens in constitutional debate, theory, and decision-making? An increasing number of legal theorists from otherwise divergent perspectives have recently argued against what Paul Brest calls the "principle of judicial exclusivity" in our constitutional processes. These theorists contend that because issues of public morality in our culture either are, or tend to become, constitutional issues, all political actors, and most notably legislators and citizens, should consider the constitutional implications of the moral issues of the day. Because constitutional questions are essentially moral questions about how active and responsible citizens should constitute themselves, we ...