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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

The Recent Unpleasantness: Understanding The Cycles Of Constitutional Time, Jack M. Balkin Jan 2019

The Recent Unpleasantness: Understanding The Cycles Of Constitutional Time, Jack M. Balkin

Indiana Law Journal

In this Article, I will talk about what I expect is going to happen in the next five to ten years. Unlike eclipses, however, one can’t be entirely sure of the future. Politics is not astronomy, and human affairs do not operate like clockwork. Moreover, we can’t assume that everything is already foreordained: that if people simply sit on their hands and do nothing, the cycles I describe in this lecture will take care of themselves. Quite the contrary. I am telling a story about what happens in the long run, but it is not a deterministic story ...


The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2019

The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The topic of this panel is the Declaration of Independence, to which I devoted a chapter of my recent book, Our Republican Constitution. I want to draw on that book to make five points.


Framer’S Intent: Gouverneur Morris, The Committee Of Style, And The Creation Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor Jan 2019

Framer’S Intent: Gouverneur Morris, The Committee Of Style, And The Creation Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

At the end of the proceedings of the federal constitutional convention, the delegates appointed the Committee on Style and Arrangement to bring together the textual provisions that the convention had previously agreed to and to prepare a final constitution. Pennsylvania delegate Gouverneur Morris was assigned to draft the document for the committee, and, with few revisions and little debate, the convention subsequently adopted the Committee’s proposed constitution. For more than two hundred years, questions have been raised as to whether Morris as drafter covertly made changes in the text in order to advance his constitutional vision, but the legal ...


Originalism And Second-Order Ipse Dixit Reasoning In Chisholm V. Georgia, D. A. Jeremy Telman Dec 2018

Originalism And Second-Order Ipse Dixit Reasoning In Chisholm V. Georgia, D. A. Jeremy Telman

D. A. Jeremy Telman


This Article presents a new perspective on the Supreme Court’s constitutional jurisprudence during the Early Republic.  It focuses on what I am calling second-order ipse dixit reasoning, which occurs when Justices have to decide between two incommensurable interpretive modalities.  If first-order ipse dixit is unreasoned decision-making, second-order ipse dixit involves an unreasoned choice between or among two or more equally valid interpretive options.  The early Court often had recourse to second-order ipse dixit because methodological eclecticism characterized its constitutional jurisprudence, and the early Court established no fixed hierarchy among interpretive modalities.
Chisholm, the pre-Marshall Court’s most important constitutional ...


All That Is Liquidated Melts Into Air: Five Meta-Interpretive Issues, D. A. Jeremy Telman Dec 2018

All That Is Liquidated Melts Into Air: Five Meta-Interpretive Issues, D. A. Jeremy Telman

D. A. Jeremy Telman


The promise of originalism is that it helps us to fix constitutional meaning and constrain constitutional decision-makers.  There are significant constitutional questions that originalism can help resolve, at least to the extent that constitutional decision-makers buy in to originalism. However, even assuming that originalism is normatively desirable, there are certain issues that are fundamental to constitutional decision-making but that originalism cannot help us resolve. The Framers were hopelessly divided on them, and they may not be susceptible to Madisonian “liquidation.”  That is, at least some of these issues still generate live controversies even though they some of them seem to ...


Originalism And Congressional Power To Enforce The Fourteenth Amendment, Christopher W. Schmidt Oct 2018

Originalism And Congressional Power To Enforce The Fourteenth Amendment, Christopher W. Schmidt

Washington and Lee Law Review Online

In this Essay, I argue that originalism conflicts with the Supreme Court’s current jurisprudence defining the scope of Congress’ power to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment. Under the standard established in Boerne v. Flores, the Court limits congressional power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to statutory remedies premised on judicially defined interpretations of Fourteenth Amendment rights. A commitment to originalism as a method of judicial constitutional interpretation challenges the premise of judicial interpretive supremacy in Section 5 jurisprudence in two ways. First, as a matter of history, an originalist reading of Section 5 provides support for broad judicial ...


The Magic Mirror Of "Original Meaning": Recent Approaches To The Fourteenth Amendment, Bret Boyce Apr 2017

The Magic Mirror Of "Original Meaning": Recent Approaches To The Fourteenth Amendment, Bret Boyce

Maine Law Review

Nearly a century and a half after its adoption, debate continues to rage over the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of basic rights. Of the three clauses in the second sentence of Section One, the latter two (the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses) loom very large in modern Supreme Court decisions, while the first (the Privileges or Immunities Clause) is of minimal importance, having been invoked only once to strike down a state law. Originalists—those who hold that the Constitution should be interpreted according to its original meaning—have often deplored this state of affairs ...


Justice Antonin Scalia’S Flawed Originalist Justification For Brown V. Board Of Education, Ronald Turner Jan 2017

Justice Antonin Scalia’S Flawed Originalist Justification For Brown V. Board Of Education, Ronald Turner

Washington University Jurisprudence Review

This article examines Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner’s originalist justification of Brown v. Board of Education in Reading Law, concluding that their analysis is flawed in at least three respects: (1) their interpretation that the texts of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibited all white-supremacist and separationist laws is atextual, acontextual, and ahistorical; (2) their invocation of Justice Harlan and his Plessy dissent does not support, but actually cuts against their understanding of the original understanding; and (3) relying on a single and critiqued article, with no reference to that criticism, they fail to support their conclusion that ...


Working Themselves Impure: A Life Cycle Theory Of Legal Theories, Jeremy Kessler, David Pozen Jan 2016

Working Themselves Impure: A Life Cycle Theory Of Legal Theories, Jeremy Kessler, David Pozen

Faculty Scholarship

Prescriptive legal theories have a tendency to cannibalize themselves. As they develop into schools of thought, they become not only increasingly complicated but also increasingly compromised, by their own normative lights. Maturation breeds adulteration. The theories work themselves impure.

This Article identifies and diagnoses this evolutionary phenomenon. We develop a stylized model to explain the life cycle of certain particularly influential legal theories. We illustrate this life cycle through case studies of originalism, textualism, popular constitutionalism, and cost-benefit analysis, as well as a comparison with leading accounts of organizational and theoretical change in politics and science. And we argue that ...


Originalism: A Thing Worth Doing . . ., D. A. Jeremy Telman Dec 2015

Originalism: A Thing Worth Doing . . ., D. A. Jeremy Telman

D. A. Jeremy Telman

Originalism in constitutional interpretation continues to grow in its reach, sophistication, practical applicability, and popular support. Although originalism first developed in the 1960s as a doctrine of judicial modesty, originalist judges are now far more confident of their ability to discern the Constitution’s original meaning and thus are willing to strike down legislative enactments inconsistent with that meaning. Two aphorisms by the leading practitioners of originalism sum up originalism’s journey. Justice Scalia, writing in the 1980s, conceded that originalism was merely “the lesser evil” and consoled himself with the Chestertonian dictum that “a thing worth doing is worth ...


Saving Originalism, Robert J. Delahunty, John Yoo May 2015

Saving Originalism, Robert J. Delahunty, John Yoo

John C Yoo

It is sometimes said that biographers cannot help but come to admire, even love, their subjects. And that adage seems to ring true of Professor Amar, the foremost “biographer” of the Constitution. He loves it not just as a governing structure, or a political system, but as a document. He loves the Constitution in the same way that a fan of English literature might treasure Milton’s Paradise Lost or Shakespeare’s Macbeth. He loves the Constitution not just for the good: the separation of powers, federalism, and the Bill of Rights. He also loves it for its nooks and ...


The Original Meaning Of "God": Using The Language Of The Framing Generation To Create A Coherent Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, Michael I. Meyerson Apr 2015

The Original Meaning Of "God": Using The Language Of The Framing Generation To Create A Coherent Establishment Clause Jurisprudence, Michael I. Meyerson

All Faculty Scholarship

The Supreme Court’s attempt to create a standard for evaluating whether the Establishment Clause is violated by religious governmental speech, such as the public display of the Ten Commandments or the Pledge of Allegiance, is a total failure. The Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence has been termed “convoluted,” “a muddled mess,” and “a polite lie.” Unwilling to either allow all governmental religious speech or ban it entirely, the Court is in need of a coherent standard for distinguishing the permissible from the unconstitutional. Thus far, no Justice has offered such a standard.

A careful reading of the history of ...


The Arduous Virtue Of Fidelity: Originalism, Scalia, Tribe, And Nerve, Ronald Dworkin Apr 2015

The Arduous Virtue Of Fidelity: Originalism, Scalia, Tribe, And Nerve, Ronald Dworkin

Fordham Law Review

Proper constitutional interpretation takes both text and past practice as its object: Lawyers and judges faced with a contemporary constitutional issue must try to construct a coherent, principled, and persuasive interpretation of the text of particular clauses, the structure of the Constitution as a whole, and our history under the Constitution—an interpretation that both unifies these distinct sources, so far as this is possible, and directs future adjudication. They must seek, that is, constitutional integrity. So fidelity to the Constitution's text does not exhaust constitutional interpretation, and on some occasions overall constitutional integrity might require a result that ...


Saving Originalism, Robert J. Delahunty, John Yoo Apr 2015

Saving Originalism, Robert J. Delahunty, John Yoo

Michigan Law Review

It is sometimes said that biographers cannot help but come to admire, even love, their subjects. And that adage seems to ring true of Professor Amar, the foremost “biographer” of the Constitution. He loves it not just as a governing structure, or a political system, but as a document. He loves the Constitution in the same way that a fan of English literature might treasure Milton’s Paradise Lost or Shakespeare’s Macbeth. He loves the Constitution not just for the good: the separation of powers, federalism, and the Bill of Rights. He also loves it for its nooks and ...


A Nonoriginalist Perspective On The Lessons Of History, Michael C. Dorf Feb 2015

A Nonoriginalist Perspective On The Lessons Of History, Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf

No abstract provided.


Originalism And The Ratification Of The Fourteenth Amendment, Thomas B. Colby Jan 2015

Originalism And The Ratification Of The Fourteenth Amendment, Thomas B. Colby

Northwestern University Law Review

Originalists have traditionally based the normative case for originalism primarily on principles of popular sovereignty: the Constitution owes its legitimacy as higher law to the fact that it was ratified by the American people through a supermajoritarian process. As such, it must be interpreted according to the original meaning that it had at the time of ratification. To give it another meaning today is to allow judges to enforce a legal rule that was never actually embraced and enacted by the people. Whatever the merits of this argument in general, it faces particular hurdles when applied to the Fourteenth Amendment ...


The Natural Born Citizen Clause As Originally Understood, Mary Brigid Mcmanamon Dec 2014

The Natural Born Citizen Clause As Originally Understood, Mary Brigid Mcmanamon

Mary Brigid McManamon

Article II of the Constitution requires that the President be a “natural born Citizen.” The phrase is derived from English common law, and the Supreme Court requires examination of that law to ascertain the phrase’s definition. This piece presents the pertinent English sources, combined with statements by early American jurists. Based on a reading of these materials, the article concludes that, in the eyes of the Framers, a presidential candidate must be born within the United States. The article is important because there has been a candidate that “pushed the envelope” on this question in many elections over the ...


Calling Them As He Sees Them: The Disappearance Of Originalism In Justice Thomas's Opinions On Race, Joel K. Goldstein Nov 2014

Calling Them As He Sees Them: The Disappearance Of Originalism In Justice Thomas's Opinions On Race, Joel K. Goldstein

Maryland Law Review

During his first two decades on the Court, Justice Clarence Thomas has been associated with originalism and is often viewed as its leading judicial proponent. Justice Thomas has linked originalism with the effort to limit judicial discretion and to promote judicial impartiality. In cases dealing with many constitutional provisions, Justice Thomas has shown his commitment to originalism by often writing solitary concurrences and dissents advocating an originalist analysis of a problem. Yet in constitutional cases dealing with race, Justice Thomas routinely abandons originalism and embraces the sort of constitutional arguments based on morality or consequentialism that he often discounts. These ...


Original Intent And The Fourteenth Amendment: Into The Black Hole Of Constitutional Law, Paul Finkelman Jun 2014

Original Intent And The Fourteenth Amendment: Into The Black Hole Of Constitutional Law, Paul Finkelman

Chicago-Kent Law Review

This article explores and examines William E. Nelson’s masterful study of the origins and adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, The Fourteenth Amendment: From Political Principal to Judicial Doctrine (1988). The article explains that a quarter of a century after he wrote this book, Nelson’s study of the origins and adoption of the Amendment remains the best exploration of these issues. His book illustrates the difficulties of determining the “original intent” of the framers of this complicated and complex Amendment. At the same time, however, Nelson demonstrates that for many issues we can come to a strong understanding of ...


Rejecting The Legal Process Theory Joker: Bill Nelson's Scholarship On Judge Edward Weinfeld And Justice Byron White, Brad Snyder Jun 2014

Rejecting The Legal Process Theory Joker: Bill Nelson's Scholarship On Judge Edward Weinfeld And Justice Byron White, Brad Snyder

Chicago-Kent Law Review

My contribution to this tribute places Bill Nelson’s scholarship about Judge Edward Weinfeld and Justice Byron White within several contexts. It is a personal history of Nelson the law student, law clerk, and young scholar; an intellectual history of legal theory since the 1960s; an examination of the influence of legal theory on Nelson’s scholarship based on his writings about Weinfeld and White; and an example of how legal historians contend with the subject of judicial reputation. Nelson was one of many former Warren Court and Burger Court clerks who joined the professoriate and rejected the legal process ...


It's The Constitution, Stupid: Two Liberals Pay Tribute To Antonin Scalia's Legacy, Adam Lamparello, Charles E. Maclean May 2014

It's The Constitution, Stupid: Two Liberals Pay Tribute To Antonin Scalia's Legacy, Adam Lamparello, Charles E. Maclean

Adam Lamparello

Living constitutionalism may achieve “good” results, but with each Roe v. Wade, and Bush v. Gore, the Constitution’s vision takes more shallow breaths, and democracy fades into elitism’s shadow. The debate over constitutional interpretation is, in many ways, reducible to this question: if a particular outcome is desirable, and the Constitution’s text is silent or ambiguous, should the United States Supreme Court (or any court) disregard constitutional constraints to achieve that outcome? If the answer is yes, nine unelected judges have the power to choose outcomes that are desirable. If the answer is no, then the focus ...


It's The Constitution, Stupid: Two Liberals Pay Tribute To Antonin Scalia's Legacy, Adam Lamparello, Charles E. Maclean May 2014

It's The Constitution, Stupid: Two Liberals Pay Tribute To Antonin Scalia's Legacy, Adam Lamparello, Charles E. Maclean

Adam Lamparello

Living constitutionalism may achieve “good” results, but with each Roe v. Wade, and Bush v. Gore, the Constitution’s vision takes more shallow breaths, and democracy fades into elitism’s shadow. The debate over constitutional interpretation is, in many ways, reducible to this question: if a particular outcome is desirable, and the Constitution’s text is silent or ambiguous, should the United States Supreme Court (or any court) disregard constitutional constraints to achieve that outcome? If the answer is yes, nine unelected judges have the power to choose outcomes that are desirable. If the answer is no, then the focus ...


Restoring Constitutional Equilibrium, Adam Lamparello Jan 2014

Restoring Constitutional Equilibrium, Adam Lamparello

Adam Lamparello

In areas such as the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court's lack of institutional restraint has affected citizens of every political persuasion. In Bush v. Gore, the Florida Supreme Court’s recount order was blocked. ‘Liberals,’ lost. In Roe v. Wade, the Court required state legislatures to allow most abortions in the first trimester. ‘Conservatives’ lost. In Clinton v. City of New York and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the coordinate branch’s attempt to ensure a more efficient and fairer government was thwarted. Average citizens lost. The problem is not a liberal or conservative one, whatever those words ...


Putting Progress Back Into Progressive: Reclaiming A Philosophy Of History For The Constitution, David Aram Kaiser Jan 2014

Putting Progress Back Into Progressive: Reclaiming A Philosophy Of History For The Constitution, David Aram Kaiser

Washington University Jurisprudence Review

No abstract provided.


The Limits Of Textualism In Interpreting The Confrontation Clause, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2014

The Limits Of Textualism In Interpreting The Confrontation Clause, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


How Nfib V. Sebelius Affects The Constitutional Gestalt, Lawrence B. Solum Jun 2013

How Nfib V. Sebelius Affects The Constitutional Gestalt, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The thesis of this essay is that the most important legal effects of the Supreme Court's decision in NFIB v. Sebelius are likely to be indirect. Sebelius marks a possible shift in what we can call the “constitutional gestalt” regarding the meaning and implications of the so-called “New Deal Settlement.” Before Sebelius, the consensus understanding was that New Deal and Warren Court cases had established a constitutional regime of plenary and virtually unlimited national legislative power under the Commerce Clause (which might be subject to narrow and limited carve outs protective of the core of state sovereignty).

After Sebelius ...


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?


Reforming Affirmative Action For The Future: A Constitutional And Consequentialist Approach, Quinn Chasan Jan 2013

Reforming Affirmative Action For The Future: A Constitutional And Consequentialist Approach, Quinn Chasan

CMC Senior Theses

In my analysis of affirmative action policy, I began the search without having formed any opinion whatsoever. The topic was interesting to me, and after reading a mass of news editorials and their op-eds, I decided to take up the argument for myself. Other than the fact that I am a student, I have no stake in affirmative action policy. This paper relies primarily on the foremost half-dozen or so notable mismatch theory scholars, a close reading of an innumerable number of Supreme Court opinions, affirmative action related studies from higher education academics and policy institutes, and how historical executive ...


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 ...