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Articles 1 - 15 of 15

Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Does “The Freedom Of The Press” Include A Right To Anonymity? The Original Meaning, Robert G. Natelson Mar 2014

Does “The Freedom Of The Press” Include A Right To Anonymity? The Original Meaning, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This Article examines relevant evidence to determine whether, as some have argued, the original legal force of the First Amendment’s “freedom of the press” included a per se right to anonymous authorship. The Article concludes that, except in cases in which freedom of the press had been abused, it did. Thus, from an originalist point of view, Supreme Court cases such as Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which upheld statutes requiring disclosure of donors to political advertising, were erroneously decided.


Does “The Freedom Of The Press” Include A Right To Anonymity? The Original Meaning, Robert G. Natelson Feb 2014

Does “The Freedom Of The Press” Include A Right To Anonymity? The Original Meaning, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This Article examines relevant evidence to determine whether, as some have argued, the original legal force of the First Amendment’s “freedom of the press” included a per se right to anonymous authorship. The Article concludes that, except in cases in which freedom of the press had been abused, it did. Thus, from an originalist point of view, Supreme Court cases such as Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which upheld statutes requiring disclosure of donors to political advertising, were erroneously decided.


Founding-Era Conventions And The Meaning Of The Constitution’S “Convention For Proposing Amendments”, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2013

Founding-Era Conventions And The Meaning Of The Constitution’S “Convention For Proposing Amendments”, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, two thirds of state legislatures may require Congress to call a “Convention for proposing Amendments.” Because this procedure has never been used, commentators frequently debate the composition of the convention and the rules governing the application and convention process. However, the debate has proceeded almost entirely without knowledge of the many multi-colony and multi-state conventions held during the eighteenth century, of which the Constitutional Convention was only one. These conventions were governed by universally-accepted convention practices and protocols. This Article surveys those conventions and shows how their practices and protocols shaped the ...


The Founders’ Hermeneutic: The Real Original Understanding Of Original Intent, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2012

The Founders’ Hermeneutic: The Real Original Understanding Of Original Intent, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This Article addresses whether the American Founders expected evidence of their own subjective views to guide future interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. The Article considers a range of evidence largely overlooked or misunderstood in earlier studies, such as contemporaneous rules of legal interpretation, judicial use of legislative history, early American public debate, and pronouncements by state ratifying conventions. Based on this evidence, the Article concludes that the Founders were “original-understanding originalists.” This means that they anticipated that constitutional interpretation would be guided by the subjective understanding of the ratifiers when such understanding was coherent and recoverable and, otherwise, by ...


A Republic, Not A Democracy? Initiative, Referendum, And The Constitution's Guarantee Clause, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2012

A Republic, Not A Democracy? Initiative, Referendum, And The Constitution's Guarantee Clause, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This article debunks the myth, first arising in the 1840s, that the Founders sharply distinguished between a "republic" and a "democracy." It explains that by a "republic," most of the Founders meant a government controlled by the citizenry, following the rule of law, and without a king. Accordingly, state provisions for initiative and referendum are fully consistent with the Constitution's requirement that each state have a republican form of government; in fact, most of the governments the Founders called "republics" had featured analogous forms of direct democracy.


Paper Money And The Original Understanding Of The Coinage Clause, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2012

Paper Money And The Original Understanding Of The Coinage Clause, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Over a century ago, the Supreme Court decided the Legal Tender Cases, holding that Congress could authorize legal tender paper money in addition to metallic coin. In recent years, some commentators have argued that this holding was incorrect as a matter of original understanding or original meaning, but that any other holding would be absolutely inconsistent with modern needs. They further argue that the impracticality of functioning without paper money demonstrates that originalism is not a workable method of constitutional interpretation. Those who rely on the Legal Tender Cases to discredit originalism are, however, in error. This Article shows that ...


The Original Meaning Of The Constitution's “Executive Vesting Clause”—Evidence From Eighteenth Century Drafting Practice, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2009

The Original Meaning Of The Constitution's “Executive Vesting Clause”—Evidence From Eighteenth Century Drafting Practice, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Advocates of presidential power from the days of George Washington at least to the time of George W. Bush have claimed that the Constitution’s so-called “Executive Vesting Clause,” the first sentence of Article II, not only designates the President as chief executive, but also confers broad authority. Some commentators support that view, while others maintain that the President’s powers are limited to those enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution. This study addresses the previously-overlooked question of which interpretation is more consistent with contemporaneous drafting customs. It concludes that treating the “Executive Vesting Clause” as a mere designation is consistent ...


The Original Meaning Of The Privileges And Immunities Clause, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2009

The Original Meaning Of The Privileges And Immunities Clause, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This article explains the meaning of the U.S. Constitution's Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, as the Founders understood it. It explains that the terms "privileges" and "immunities" had well-understood content in 18th century law---as benefits created by government. The Clause protects states from discriminating against visitors as to the benefits of citizenship (such as access to the courts), but does not address "natural rights" such as freedom of speech and religion.


The Original Understanding Of The Indian Commerce Clause, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2007

The Original Understanding Of The Indian Commerce Clause, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

The United States Congress claims plenary and exclusive power over federal affairs with the Indian tribes, based primarily on the Constitution’s Indian Commerce Clause. This article is the first comprehensive analysis of the original meaning of, and understanding behind, that constitutional provision. The author concludes that, as originally understood, congressional power over the tribes was to be neither plenary nor exclusive.


Federal Land Retention And The Constitution's Property Clause: The Original Understanding, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2005

Federal Land Retention And The Constitution's Property Clause: The Original Understanding, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This article examines the original meaning of the Constitution's clauses authorizing federal land ownership. It finds that the power granted to Congress was broad enough to include land ownership for enumerated purposes, even without complying the procedures necessary for the creation of federal enclaves. But it finds that the power was not broad enough to include indefinite landholding for unenumerated purposes.


The Agency Law Origins Of The Necessary And Proper Clause, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2004

The Agency Law Origins Of The Necessary And Proper Clause, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This is the first of several writings by the author on the original meaning of the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause. It explains part of the legal background of the Clause, identifies it as a recital (not an independent grant of power) of the 18th century doctrine of incidental powers, and explains the content of that doctrine. The article has since been updated and supplemented by the author's signed chapters in Lawson, Miller, Natelson & Seidman, The Origins of the Necessary and Proper Clause (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010).


The General Welfare Clause And The Public Trust: An Essay In Original Understanding, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2004

The General Welfare Clause And The Public Trust: An Essay In Original Understanding, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

This article explains the original meaning/understanding of the Constitution's General Welfare Clause, including the scope of the taxing and spending power granted to Congress


The Constitution And The Public Trust, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2004

The Constitution And The Public Trust, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

The American Founders believed that public officials were bound by fiduciary obligations, and they wrote that view into the Constitution. This article copiously documents their position.


Statutory Retroactivity: The Founders' View, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2003

Statutory Retroactivity: The Founders' View, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

The article explains the extent to which the Founders' Constitution permitted and prohibited retroactive legislation, and the provisions in that document relevant to the question.


A Reminder: The Constitutional Values Of Sympathy And Independence, Robert G. Natelson Jan 2003

A Reminder: The Constitutional Values Of Sympathy And Independence, Robert G. Natelson

Robert G. Natelson

Nearly all participants in the American Founding shared constitutiona/ values of "sympathy" and "independence." According to the ideal of sympathy, government actors should mirror the full range of popular attitudes. According to the ideal of independence, voters should remain independent of other citizens and of governmental entities, and those entities should remain independent of, and competitive with, each other. Sympathy and independence were central, not peripheral, to the Founders' Constitution, so the document cannot be interpreted properly without keeping them in view. The author provides examples of how constitutional practice might be altered had these central values not been overlooked.