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The Romantic Author As Compelled Speaker, Sonya G. Bonneau Nov 2022

The Romantic Author As Compelled Speaker, Sonya G. Bonneau

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The romantic author trope has been extensively criticized in the copyright context, yet it threatens to emerge as a new pillar of First Amendment compelled speech jurisprudence. Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission exemplifies the trope’s rhetorical power, and the costs of that approach. Casting the baker as an artist, Justice Thomas finds that creating custom wedding cakes was speech, and that applying a public accommodations law to require service to a same-sex couple triggered strict scrutiny review. This is an extraordinary result. Although the Court never adjudicated the compelled speech claim, it will …


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 to …


Welcome To The New Originalism: A Comment On Jack Balkin’S Living Originalism, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2013

Welcome To The New Originalism: A Comment On Jack Balkin’S Living Originalism, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this short piece for a symposium on Jack Balkin's new book, Living Originalism, I welcome Jack Balkin into the originalist camp. I discuss how and why a nonoriginalist can become an originalist. By discussing how I eventually became an originalist at the end of the last century, I hope to shed some light on what exactly is so remarkable about Jack Balkin’s move. After discussing the appeal of the New Originalism that account for Balkin's originalist move, I conclude by offering a cautionary note about the use of "underlying principles in Balkin's "text and principle" approach, which in certain …


Interpretation And Construction, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2011

Interpretation And Construction, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In recent years, it has become apparent that there is a difference between (a) discovering the semantic meaning of the words in the text of the Constitution, and (b) putting that meaning into effect by applying it in particular cases and controversies. To capture this difference, following the lead of political science professor Keith Whittington, legal scholars are increasingly distinguishing between the activities of “interpretation” and “construction.” Although the Supreme Court unavoidably engages in both activities, it is useful to keep these categories separate. For one thing, if originalism is a theory of interpretation, then it may be of limited …


Two Kinds Of Plain Meaning, Victoria Nourse Jan 2011

Two Kinds Of Plain Meaning, Victoria Nourse

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Is plain meaning so plain? This is not meant to be a philosophical question, but one deserving serious legal analysis. The plain-meaning rule claims to provide certainty and narrow statutes' domains. The author agrees with, as a relative claim, comparing plain meaning with purposivism. She does not agree that plain-meaning analysis is as easy as its proponents suggest. In this piece, the author teases out two very different ideas of plain meaning--ordinary/popular meaning and expansive/legalist meaning--suggesting that doctrinal analysis requires more than plain-meaning simpliciter. Perhaps more importantly, she argues that plain meaning, as legalist meaning, can quite …


Commandeering The People: Why The Individual Health Insurance Mandate Is Unconstitutional, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2010

Commandeering The People: Why The Individual Health Insurance Mandate Is Unconstitutional, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” includes what is called an “individual responsibility requirement” or mandate that all persons buy health insurance from a private company and a separate “penalty” enforcing this requirement. In this paper, I do not critique the individual mandate on originalist grounds. Instead, I explain why the individual mandate is unconstitutional under the existing doctrine by which the Supreme Court construes the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses and the tax power. There are three principal claims.

First (Part II), since the New Deal, the Supreme Court has developed a doctrine allowing the regulation of …


The Right To Bear Arms: A Uniquely American Entitlement, Lawrence O. Gostin Jan 2010

The Right To Bear Arms: A Uniquely American Entitlement, Lawrence O. Gostin

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court held that individuals have a constitutional right to own firearms, notably to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-protection. The historic shift announced by Heller was the recognition of a personal right, rather than a collective right tied to state militias. In McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court – in a familiar 5-4 ideological split – held that the 2nd Amendment applies not only to the federal government, but also to state and local gun control laws. In his dissent, Justice Stevens predicted that “the consequences could prove far more …


Against Textualism, William Michael Treanor Jan 2009

Against Textualism, William Michael Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Modern textualists have assumed that careful attention to constitutional text is the key to the recovery of the Constitution's original public meaning. This article challenges that assumption by showing the importance of nontextual factors in early constitutional interpretation. The Founding generation consistently relied on structural concerns, policy, ratifiers' and drafters' intent, and broad principles of government. To exclude such nontextual factors from constitutional interpretation is to depart from original public meaning because the Founders gave these factors great weight in ascertaining meaning. Moreover, for a modern judge seeking to apply original public meaning, the threshold question is not simply; "How …


District Of Columbia V. Heller And Originalism, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2009

District Of Columbia V. Heller And Originalism, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

On June 26, 2008, the United States Supreme Court handed down its 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, striking a District of Columbia statute that prohibits the possession of useable handguns in the home on the ground that it violated the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Justice Scalia's majority opinion drew dissents from Justice Stevens and Justice Breyer. Collectively, the opinions in Heller represent the most important and extensive debate on the role of original meaning in constitutional interpretation among the members of the contemporary Supreme Court.

This article investigates the relationship between originalist constitutional …


The Twenty Year Test: Principles For An Enduring Counterterrorism Legal Architecture, James E. Baker Jan 2008

The Twenty Year Test: Principles For An Enduring Counterterrorism Legal Architecture, James E. Baker

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The United States faces three enduring terrorism-related threats. First, there is the realistic prospect of additional attacks in the United States including attacks using weapons of mass destruction (“WMD”). Second, in responding to this threat, we may undermine the freedoms that enrich our lives, the tolerance that marks our society, and the democratic values that define our government. Third, if we are too focused on terrorism, we risk losing sight of this century’s other certain threats as well as the capacity to respond to them, including the state proliferation of nuclear weapons, nation-state rivalry, pandemic disease, oil dependency, and environmental …


The Choice Between Madison And Fdr, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2008

The Choice Between Madison And Fdr, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This exchange is about three clauses that have often been used by the courts since the New Deal to expand federal power: the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and the Taxation Clause, from which the spending power has (at least until today) been construed. This Essay addresses the originalist interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause.


Constitutional Clichés, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2008

Constitutional Clichés, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Popular discourse on constitutional interpretation and judicial review tend to employ a series of catch phrases that have become constitutional clichés. Phrases such as “judicial activism,” “judicial restraint,” “strict construction,” “not legislating from the bench,” “Framers’ intent,” the “dead hand of the past,” and “stare decisis” so dominate public commentary on the Constitution and the courts that quite often that is all one hears. Unfortunately, even law professors are not immune. There was a time when each of these catch phrases meant something and, although each could mean something again, in current debates all have become trite and largely devoid …


Underlying Principles, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2007

Underlying Principles, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In his forthcoming article, Original Meaning and Abortion, Jack Balkin makes the startling disclosure that he is now an originalist. "[C]onstitutional interpretation," he writes, "requires fidelity to the original meaning of the Constitution and to the principles that underlie the text. The task of interpretation is to look to original meaning and underlying principle and decide how best to apply them in current circumstances. I call this the method of text and principle."

In this brief reply, the author cautions that, to remain faithful to the Constitution when referring to underlying principles, we must never forget it is a text …


Taking Text Too Seriously: Modern Textualism, Original Meaning, And The Case Of Amar's Bill Of Rights, William Michael Treanor Jan 2007

Taking Text Too Seriously: Modern Textualism, Original Meaning, And The Case Of Amar's Bill Of Rights, William Michael Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Championed on the Supreme Court by Justices Scalia and Thomas and championed in academia most prominently by Professor Akhil Amar, textualism has in the past twenty years emerged as a leading school of constitutional interpretation. Textualists argue that the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with its original public meaning and, in seeking that meaning, they closely parse the Constitution's words and grammar and the placement of clauses in the document. They have assumed that this close parsing recaptures original meaning, but, perhaps because it seems obviously correct, that assumption has neither been defended nor challenged. This article uses Professor …


The Constitution's Political Deficit, Robin West Dec 2006

The Constitution's Political Deficit, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Professor Levinson has wisely called for an extended conversation regarding the possibility and desirability of a new Constitutional Convention, which might be called so as to correct some of the more glaring failings of our current governing document. Chief among those, in his view, are a handful of doctrines that belie our commitment to democratic self-government, such as the two-senators-per-state makeup of the United States Senate and the Electoral College. Perhaps these provisions once had some rhyme or reason to them, but, as Levinson suggests, it is not at all clear that they do now. They assure that our legislative …


The Presumption Of Liberty And The Public Interest: Medical Marijuana And Fundamental Rights, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2006

The Presumption Of Liberty And The Public Interest: Medical Marijuana And Fundamental Rights, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

As part of this lecture series on lawyering in the public interest, the author decided to talk about his pro bono involvement in the medical cannabis case of Gonzales v. Raich, which he and three other lawyers brought on behalf of Angel Raich and Diane Monson. There are three topics discussed in this lecture: the first is how the author got involved in doing this, which is a question he is asked all the time; the second is to describe the theory they took to the Supreme Court, which prevailed in the Ninth Circuit but was ultimately rejected by …


A Response To Goodwin Liu, Robin West Jan 2006

A Response To Goodwin Liu, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Professor Liu's article convincingly shows that the Fourteenth Amendment can be read, and has been read in the past, to confer a positive right on all citizens to a high-quality public education and to place a correlative duty on the legislative branches of both state and federal government to provide for that education. Specifically, the United States Congress has an obligation under the Fourteenth Amendment's Citizenship Clause, Liu argues, to ensure that the public education provided by states meets minimal standards so that citizens possess the competencies requisite to meaningful participation in civic life. Liu's argument is not simply that …


It's A Bird, It's A Plane, No, It's Super Precedent: A Response To Faber And Gerhardt, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2006

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, No, It's Super Precedent: A Response To Faber And Gerhardt, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The normative case for originalism is based, in large measure, on the superiority of the enacted text over the opinions of members of the government whom it is supposed to govern and limit-including members of the Supreme Court. The author does not see how an originalist can accept that the Supreme Court could change the meaning of the text from what it meant as enacted and still remain an originalist. In other words, once it becomes appropriate for the Supreme Court to discard original meaning and the original meaning of the text is thereby reduced to a factor among many …


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 meaning is possible because the words and …


Are There Nothing But Texts In This Class? Interpreting The Interpretive Turns In Legal Thought, Robin West Jan 2000

Are There Nothing But Texts In This Class? Interpreting The Interpretive Turns In Legal Thought, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Allan Hutchinson remarks at the beginning of his interesting article that Gadamer's writings have had only a peripheral influence on legal scholarship -- only occasionally cited, and then begrudgingly so, and never given the serious attention they deserve or require. Nevertheless, Hutchinson acknowledges, Gadamerian influences can be noted -- particularly in the now widely shared understanding that adjudication is, fundamentally, an interpretive exercise. Even with this qualification, though, I think Hutchinson understates Gadamer's impact. Whatever may be true of Gadamer's influence in other disciplines, his influence in law has been unambiguously both broad and deep -- although it has come …


An Originalism For Nonoriginalists, Randy E. Barnett Jan 1999

An Originalism For Nonoriginalists, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The received wisdom among law professors is that originalism is dead, having been defeated in intellectual combat sometime in the eighties. According to this story, Edwin Meese and Robert Bork proposed that the Constitution be interpreted according to the original intentions of its framers. Their view was trounced by many academic critics, perhaps most notably by Paul Brest in his widely-cited 1980 Boston University Law Review article, The Misconceived Quest for Original Understanding, and by H. Jefferson Powell in his 1985 Harvard Law Review article, The Original Understanding of Original Intent. Taken together, these and other articles represent …


Laughing At Treaties, Carlos Manuel Vázquez Jan 1999

Laughing At Treaties, Carlos Manuel Vázquez

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This article responds to two articles by Professor John Yoo appearing in the same volume. Professor Yoo maintains that treaties, either categorically or presumptively, have the same status in the United States as in the United Kingdom, where they lack the force of domestic law, and hence are not judicially enforceable, until implemented by statute. This response argues that Yoo's thesis contradicts the text of the Constitution, which declares treaties to be the 'law of the land.' The response notes, further, that Professor Yoo's reliance on the ratification debates to read the Supremacy Clause's reference to treaties out of the …


Was Slavery Unconstitutional Before The Thirteenth Amendment? Lysander Spooner’S Theory Of Interpretation, Randy E. Barnett Jan 1997

Was Slavery Unconstitutional Before The Thirteenth Amendment? Lysander Spooner’S Theory Of Interpretation, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In 1843, radical abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison called the Constitution of the United States, "a covenant with death and an agreement with hell." Why? Because it sanctioned slavery, one of the greatest crimes that one person can commit against another. Slavery was thought by abolitionists to be a violation of the natural rights of man so fundamental that, as Lincoln once remarked: "If slavery were not wrong, nothing is wrong." Yet the original U.S. Constitution was widely thought to have sanctioned this crime. Even today, many still believe that, until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment prohibiting involuntary servitude, slavery …


Progressive And Conservative Constitutionalism, Robin West Jan 1990

Progressive And Conservative Constitutionalism, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

American constitutional law in general, and fourteenth amendment jurisprudence in particular, is in a state of profound transformation. The "liberal-legalist" and purportedly politically neutral understanding of constitutional guarantees that dominated constitutional law and theory during the fifties, sixties, and seventies, is waning, both in the courts and in the academy. What is beginning to replace liberal legalism in the academy, and what has clearly replaced it on the Supreme Court, is a very different conception - a new paradigm - of the role of constitutionalism, constitutional adjudication, and constitutional guarantees in a democratic state. Unlike the liberal-legal paradigm it is …