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Full-Text Articles in Law

Keeping Our Distinctions Straight: A Response To “Originalism: Standard And Procedure”, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2022

Keeping Our Distinctions Straight: A Response To “Originalism: Standard And Procedure”, Mitchell N. Berman

All Faculty Scholarship

For half a century, moral philosophers have distinguished between a “standard” that makes acts right and a “decision procedure” by which agents can determine whether any given contemplated act is right, which is to say whether it satisfies the standard. In “Originalism: Standard and Procedure,” Stephen Sachs argues that the same distinction applies to the constitutional domain and that clear grasp of the difference strengthens the case for originalism because theorists who emphasize the infirmities of originalism as a decision procedure frequently but mistakenly infer that those flaws also cast doubt on originalism as a standard. This invited response agrees …


For Legal Principles, Mitchell N. Berman Jun 2017

For Legal Principles, Mitchell N. Berman

All Faculty Scholarship

Most legal thinkers believe that legal rules and legal principles are meaningfully distinguished. Many jurists may have no very precise distinction in mind, and those who do might not all agree. But it is widely believed that legal norms come in different logical types, and that one difference is reasonably well captured by a nomenclature that distinguishes “rules” from “principles.” Larry Alexander is the foremost challenger to this bit of legal-theoretic orthodoxy. In several articles, but especially in “Against Legal Principles,” an influential article co-authored with Ken Kress two decades ago, Alexander has argued that legal principles cannot exist.

In …


Judge Posner’S Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2015

Judge Posner’S Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman

All Faculty Scholarship

The world is complex, Richard Posner observes in his most recent book, Reflections on Judging. It follows that, to resolve real-world disputes sensibly, judges must be astute students of the world’s complexity. The problem, he says, is that, thanks to disposition, training, and professional incentives, they aren’t. Worse than that, the legal system generates its own complexity precisely to enable judges “to avoid rather than meet and overcome the challenge of complexity” that the world delivers. Reflections concerns how judges needlessly complexify inherently simple law, and how this complexification can be corrected.

Posner’s diagnoses and prescriptions range widely—from the Bluebook …


A Few Thoughts On Free Speech Constitutionalism, Helen Norton Jan 2015

A Few Thoughts On Free Speech Constitutionalism, Helen Norton

Publications

No abstract provided.


Judge Posner, Judge Wilkinson, And Judicial Critique Of Constitutional Theory, Kevin C. Walsh Jan 2014

Judge Posner, Judge Wilkinson, And Judicial Critique Of Constitutional Theory, Kevin C. Walsh

Law Faculty Publications

Judge Richard Posner's well-known view is that constitutional theory is useless. And Judge J Harvie Wilkinson III has lambasted constitutional theory for the way in which its "cosmic" aspirations threaten democratic self-governance. Many other judges hold similar views. And yet both Posner and Wilkinson-in the popular press, in law review articles, and in books-have advocated what appear to be their own theories of how to judge in constitutional cases. Judicial pragmatism for Posner and judicial restraint for Wilkinson seem to be substitutes for originalism, living constitutionalism, political process theory, and so on. But both Posner and Wilkinson also deny that …


Judge Posner, Judge Wilkinson, And Judicial Critique Of Constitutional Theory, Marc O. Degirolami, Kevin C. Walsh Jan 2014

Judge Posner, Judge Wilkinson, And Judicial Critique Of Constitutional Theory, Marc O. Degirolami, Kevin C. Walsh

Faculty Publications

Judge Richard Posner’s well-known view is that constitutional theory is useless. And Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III has lambasted constitutional theory for the way in which its “cosmic” aspirations threaten democratic self-governance. Many other judges hold similar views. And yet both Posner and Wilkinson — in the popular press, in law review articles, and in books — have advocated what appear to be their own theories of how to judge in constitutional cases. Judicial pragmatism for Posner and judicial restraint for Wilkinson seem to be substitutes for originalism, living constitutionalism, political process theory, and so on. But both Posner and …


Reflective Equilibrium And Constitutional Method: Lessons From John Mccain And The Natural-Born Citizen Clause, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2011

Reflective Equilibrium And Constitutional Method: Lessons From John Mccain And The Natural-Born Citizen Clause, Mitchell N. Berman

All Faculty Scholarship

How should we settle on a theory of constitutional interpretation? Take the debate over originalism. How should we determine which of the contending views is correct? Presumably, the correct view of constitutional interpretation must be at least consistent with the truth about other adjacent matters too - like, say, the nature of law. But how should we go about reaching the correct theory of constitutional interpretation in a manner that best ensures this consistency condition is satisfied?

A common approach, especially favored by some subset of contemporary originalists, is fairly described as foundationalist. For example, some originalists argue: that the …


Constitutional Theory And The Rule Of Recognition: Toward A Fourth Theory Of Law, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2009

Constitutional Theory And The Rule Of Recognition: Toward A Fourth Theory Of Law, Mitchell N. Berman

All Faculty Scholarship

This essay, a contribution to a forthcoming edited volume on Hart's rule of recognition and the U.S. Constitution, advances one argument and pitches one proposal. The argument is that Hart's theory of law does not succeed. On Hart's account, legal propositions are what they are - that is, they have the particular content and status that they do - by virtue of their satisfying necessary and sufficient conditions that are themselves established by a special sort of convergent practice among officials. American constitutional theorists are often troubled by this account because it seems to imply that in the "hard cases" …


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 Missing Jurisprudence Of The Legislated Constitution, Robin West Jan 2009

The Missing Jurisprudence Of The Legislated Constitution, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Does the fourteenth Amendment and its Equal Protection Clause — the promise that "no state shall deny equal protection of the laws" — have any relevance to the progressive project of reducing economic inequality in various spheres of life or, more modestly, of ameliorating the multiple vulnerabilities of this country's poor people? The short answer, I believe, is, it depends. It will depend, in 2020, just as it depends now, on what we mean by the Constitution we are expounding: the Constitution as read and interpreted by courts — the adjudicated Constitution — or what I propose to call the …


The Supreme Court In Bondage: Constitutional Stare Decisis, Legal Formalism, And The Future Of Unenumerated Rights, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2006

The Supreme Court In Bondage: Constitutional Stare Decisis, Legal Formalism, And The Future Of Unenumerated Rights, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay advances a formalist conception of constitutional stare decisis. The author argues that instrumentalist accounts of precedent are inherently unsatisfying and that the Supreme Court should abandon adherence to the doctrine that it is free to overrule its own prior decisions. These moves are embedded in a larger theoretical framework--a revival of formalist ideas in legal theory that he calls "neoformalism" to distinguish his view from the so-called "formalism" caricatured by the legal realists (and from some other views that are called "formalist").

In Part II, The Critique of Unenumerated Constitutional Rights, the author sets the stage by …


The Constitutionality Of An Executive Spending Plan, Paul E. Salamanca Jan 2003

The Constitutionality Of An Executive Spending Plan, Paul E. Salamanca

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

Operation of government in the absence of appropriations has become relatively common in the United States, particularly when projected expenses exceed projected revenue, making adoption of a budget a difficult task for the legislature. This Article focuses on the budget crisis in the Commonwealth of Kentucky from 2002 through 2003. In Part I, this Article recapitulates the history of the spending plan, including the action filed in Franklin Circuit Court to affirm its constitutionality. In Part II, this Article discusses certain theoretical, historical, and legal principles that inform analysis of the plan. In Part III, it considers certain deviations and …


The Law And Large Numbers, Paul H. Edelman Jan 2002

The Law And Large Numbers, Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Can mathematics be used to inform legal analysis? This is not a ridiculous question. Law has certain superficial resem­blances to mathematics. One might view the Constitution and various statutes as providing "axioms" for a deductive legal sys­tem. From these axioms judges deduce "theorems" consisting of interpretation of these axioms in certain situations. Often these theorems are built on previously "proven" theorems, i.e. earlier decisions of the court. Of course some of the axioms might change, and occasionally a theorem that was once true becomes false; the former is a common feature of mathematics, the latter, though theoretically not possible in …


Authorizing Interpretation, Pierre Schlag Jan 1998

Authorizing Interpretation, Pierre Schlag

Publications

No abstract provided.


A Nonoriginalist Perspective On The Lessons Of History, Michael C. Dorf Jan 1996

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

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Progress And Constitutionalism, Robert F. Nagel Jan 1996

Progress And Constitutionalism, Robert F. Nagel

Publications

No abstract provided.


A Heterodox Catechism, Paul Campos Jan 1994

A Heterodox Catechism, Paul Campos

Publications

No abstract provided.


Three Mistakes About Interpretation, Paul Campos Jan 1993

Three Mistakes About Interpretation, Paul Campos

Publications

No abstract provided.


A Mirror For The Magistrate, Paul Campos Jan 1992

A Mirror For The Magistrate, Paul Campos

Publications

No abstract provided.


Against Constitutional Theory, Paul Campos Jan 1992

Against Constitutional Theory, Paul Campos

Publications

No abstract provided.


Constitutional Scepticism, Robin West Jan 1992

Constitutional Scepticism, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Interpretive constitutional debate over the last few decades has centered on two apparently linked questions: whether the Constitution can be given a determinate meaning, and whether the institution of judicial review can be justified within the basic assumptions of liberalism. Two groups of scholars have generated answers to these questions. The "constitutional faithful" argue that meaning can indeed be determinately affixed to constitutional clauses, by reference to the plain meaning of the document, the original intent of the drafters, evolving political and moral norms of the community, or the best political or moral philosophical theory available and that, because of …


The Meaning Of Equality And The Interpretive Turn, Robin West Jan 1990

The Meaning Of Equality And The Interpretive Turn, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The turn to hermeneutics and interpretation in contemporary legal theory has contributed at least two central ideas to modern jurisprudential thought: first, that the "meaning" of a text is invariably indeterminate -- what might be called the indeterminacy claim -- and second, that the unavoidably malleable essence of texts -- their essential inessentiality -- entails that interpreting a text is a necessary part of the process of creating the text's meaning. These insights have generated both considerable angst, and considerable excitement among traditional constitutional scholars, primarily because at least on first blush these two claims seem to inescapably imply a …


Are Constitutional Cases Political?, Brian Slattery Jan 1989

Are Constitutional Cases Political?, Brian Slattery

Articles & Book Chapters

To argue that constitutional adjudication is political does not carry us very far unless we go on to specify what the pursuit of politics entails, the goals it seeks to attain, and the basic principles informing its practice. The word political has no clearly defined meaning in modern usage. Rather, it has the chameleon-like capacity to change colours so as to blend with a variety of different conceptual backgrounds. Of course, if we adopt an Aristotelian notion of politics as the pursuit of the common good of a community and the individual goods of its members, we can agree that …


Cannibal Moves: An Essay On The Metamorphoses Of The Legal Distinction, Pierre Schlag Jan 1988

Cannibal Moves: An Essay On The Metamorphoses Of The Legal Distinction, Pierre Schlag

Publications

No abstract provided.