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Georgetown University Law Center

Originalism

1996

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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 ...