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Georgetown University Law Center

Originalism

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 6 of 6

Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Construction And Constraint: Discussion Of Living Originalism, Lawrence B. Solum Mar 2013

Construction And Constraint: Discussion Of Living Originalism, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Jack Balkin's Living Originalism raises many important questions about contemporary constitutional theory. Can and should liberals and progressives embrace originalism? Can the New Deal expansion of national legislative power be given originalist foundations? Is there a plausible originalist case for a right to reproductive autonomy and hence for the Court's decision in Roe v. Wade? Is the fact of theoretical disagreement among originalists evidence for the thesis that the originalist project is in disarray?


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 ...


Communicative Content And Legal Content, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2013

Communicative Content And Legal Content, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay investigates a familiar set of questions about the relationship between legal texts (e.g., constitutions, statutes, opinions, orders, and contracts) and the content of the law (e.g., norms, rules, standards, doctrines, and mandates). Is the original meaning of the constitutional text binding on the Supreme Court when it develops doctrines of constitutional law? Should statutes be given their plain meaning or should judges devise statutory constructions that depart from the text to serve a purpose? What role should default rules play in the interpretation and construction of contracts? This essay makes two moves that can help lawyers ...


A Decision Theory Of Statutory Interpretation: Legislative History By The Rules, Victoria Nourse Jan 2012

A Decision Theory Of Statutory Interpretation: Legislative History By The Rules, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

We have a law of civil procedure, criminal procedure, and administrative procedure, but we have no law of legislative procedure. This failure has serious consequences in the field of statutory interpretation. Using simple rules garnered from Congress itself, this Article argues that those rules are capable of transforming the field of statutory interpretation. Addressing canonical cases in the field, from Holy Trinity to Bock Laundry, from Weber to Public Citizen, this article shows how cases studied by vast numbers of law students are made substantially more manageable, and in some cases quite simple, through knowledge of congressional procedure. No longer ...


What Is Originalism? The Evolution Of Contemporary Originalist Theory, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2011

What Is Originalism? The Evolution Of Contemporary Originalist Theory, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Debates over “originalism” have been a central focus of contemporary constitutional theory for three decades. One of the features of this debate has been disagreement about what “originalism” is. More worrisome is the possibility that the arguments between contemporary originalists and their opponents, the “living constitutionalists”, are confused–-with each side of the debate making erroneous assumptions about the content of their opponent’s theories.

The aim of this chapter is to clarify these debates by providing a history of contemporary originalism and then developing an account of the core or focal content of originalist theory. The history reveals that ...


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 ...