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Constitutional interpretation

Constitutional Law

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Serving Only To Oppress: An Intersectional And Critical Race Analysis Of Constitutional Originalism Inflicting Harm, Ethan Dawson Jul 2023

Serving Only To Oppress: An Intersectional And Critical Race Analysis Of Constitutional Originalism Inflicting Harm, Ethan Dawson

Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality

“[T]imes can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress.” - Justice Anthony Kennedy, Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

This Note will first focus on a historical analysis of originalist constitutional interpretation, drawing attention to initial disparities in the Constitution incompatible with our current social context. It will discuss modern originalism as a method of perpetuating systemic shortcomings, drawing specific attention to originalist interpretation as a method of oppression against white women and people of color, specifically Black women. In analyzing the harm originalism does to …


Against Political Theory In Constitutional Interpretation, Christopher S. Havasy, Joshua C. Macey, Brian Richardson Apr 2023

Against Political Theory In Constitutional Interpretation, Christopher S. Havasy, Joshua C. Macey, Brian Richardson

Vanderbilt Law Review

Judges and academics have long relied on the work of a small number of Enlightenment political theorists-—particularly Locke, Montesquieu, and Blackstone—-to discern meaning from vague and ambiguous constitutional provisions. This Essay cautions that Enlightenment political theory should rarely, if ever, be cited as an authoritative source of constitutional meaning. There are three principal problems with constitutional interpretation based on eighteenth-century political theory. First, Enlightenment thinkers developed distinct and incompatible theories about how to structure a republican form of government. That makes it difficult to decide which among the conflicting theories should possess constitutional significance. Second, the Framers did not write …


The Constitutional Law Of Interpretation, Anthony J. Bellia Jr., Bradford R. Clark Dec 2022

The Constitutional Law Of Interpretation, Anthony J. Bellia Jr., Bradford R. Clark

Notre Dame Law Review

The current debate over constitutional interpretation often proceeds on the assumption that the Constitution does not provide rules for its own interpretation. Accordingly, several scholars have attempted to identify applicable rules by consulting external sources that governed analogous legal texts (such as statutes, treaties, contracts, etc.). The distinctive function of the Constitution—often forgotten or overlooked—renders these analogies largely unnecessary. The Constitution was an instrument used by the people of the several States to transfer a fixed set of sovereign rights and powers from one group of sovereigns (the States) to another sovereign (the federal government), while maintaining the “States” as …


Holmes V. Walton And Its Enduring Lessons For Originalism, Justin W. Aimonetti Sep 2022

Holmes V. Walton And Its Enduring Lessons For Originalism, Justin W. Aimonetti

Marquette Law Review

Originalism is nothing new. And the New Jersey Supreme Court’s 1780 decision in Holmes v. Walton shows it. In that case, the New Jersey Supreme Court disallowed a state law as repugnant to the state constitution because the law permitted a jury of only six to render a judgment. To reach that result, the court looked to the fixed, original meaning of the jury trial guarantee embedded in the state constitution, and it then constrained its interpretive latitude in conformity with that fixed meaning. Holmes thus cuts against the common misconception that originalism as an interpretive methodology is a modern …


Anti-Modalities, David E. Pozen, Adam M. Samaha Feb 2021

Anti-Modalities, David E. Pozen, Adam M. Samaha

Michigan Law Review

Constitutional argument runs on the rails of “modalities.” These are the accepted categories of reasoning used to make claims about the content of supreme law. Some of the modalities, such as ethical and prudential arguments, seem strikingly open ended at first sight. Their contours come into clearer view, however, when we attend to the kinds of claims that are not made by constitutional interpreters—the analytical and rhetorical moves that are familiar in debates over public policy and political morality but are considered out of bounds in debates over constitutional meaning. In this Article, we seek to identify the “anti-modalities” of …


The People's Court: On The Intellectual Origins Of American Judicial Power, Ian C. Bartrum Jan 2021

The People's Court: On The Intellectual Origins Of American Judicial Power, Ian C. Bartrum

Dickinson Law Review (2017-Present)

This article enters into the modern debate between “consti- tutional departmentalists”—who contend that the executive and legislative branches share constitutional interpretive authority with the courts—and what are sometimes called “judicial supremacists.” After exploring the relevant history of political ideas, I join the modern minority of voices in the latter camp.

This is an intellectual history of two evolving political ideas—popular sovereignty and the separation of powers—which merged in the making of American judicial power, and I argue we can only understand the structural function of judicial review by bringing these ideas together into an integrated whole. Or, put another way, …


Resolving Alj Removal Protections Problem Following Lucia, Spencer Davenport May 2020

Resolving Alj Removal Protections Problem Following Lucia, Spencer Davenport

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

When the Supreme Court decided Lucia v. SEC and held that administrative law judges (ALJs) are Officers under the Constitution, the Court opened a flood of constitutional issues around the status of ALJs and related government positions. One central issue relates to ALJs’ removal protections. ALJs currently have two layers of protection between them and the President. In an earlier Supreme Court decision, the Court held that two layers of tenure protection between an “Officer of the United States” and the President was unconstitutional as it deprived the President the power to hold his officers accountable. As impartial adjudicators, ALJs …


Fixing America's Founding, Maeve Glass May 2020

Fixing America's Founding, Maeve Glass

Michigan Law Review

Review of Jonathan Gienapp's The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era.


Translating The Constitution, Jack M. Balkin May 2020

Translating The Constitution, Jack M. Balkin

Michigan Law Review

Review of Lawrence Lessig's Fidelity and Constraint: How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution.


Coin, Currency, And Constitution: Reconsidering The National Bank Precedent, David S. Schwartz May 2020

Coin, Currency, And Constitution: Reconsidering The National Bank Precedent, David S. Schwartz

Michigan Law Review

Review of Eric Lomazoff's Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy: Politics and Law in the Early American Republic.


Segregation In The Galleries: A Reconsideration, Richard Primus Feb 2020

Segregation In The Galleries: A Reconsideration, Richard Primus

Michigan Law Review Online

When constitutional lawyers talk about the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment as applied to questions of race, they often men-tion that the spectators’ galleries in Congress were racially segregated when Congress debated the Amendment.1 If the Thirty-Ninth Congress practiced racial segregation, the thinking goes, then it probably did not mean to prohibit racial segregation.2 As an argument about constitutional interpretation, this line of thinking has both strengths and weaknesses. But this brief Essay is not about the interpretive consequences, if any, of segregation in the congressional galleries during the 1860s. It is about the factual claim that the galleries …


Originalism And A Forgotten Conflict Over Martial Law, Bernadette Meyler Apr 2019

Originalism And A Forgotten Conflict Over Martial Law, Bernadette Meyler

Northwestern University Law Review

This Symposium Essay asks what a largely forgotten conflict over habeas corpus and martial law in mid-eighteenth-century New York can tell us about originalist methods of constitutional interpretation. The episode, which involved Abraham Yates, Jr.—later a prominent Antifederalist—as well as Lord Loudoun, the commander of the British forces in America, and New York Acting Governor James De Lancey, furnishes insights into debates about martial law prior to the Founding and indicates that they may have bearing on originalist interpretations of the Suspension Clause. It also demonstrates how the British imperial context in which the American colonies were situated shaped discussions …


Article Ii And Antidiscrimination Norms, Aziz Z. Huq Jan 2019

Article Ii And Antidiscrimination Norms, Aziz Z. Huq

Michigan Law Review

The Supreme Court’s opinion in Trump v. Hawaii validated a prohibition on entry to the United States from several Muslim-majority countries and at the same time repudiated a longstanding precedent associated with the Japanese American internment of World War II. This Article closely analyzes the relationship of these twin rulings. It uses their dichotomous valences as a lens on the legal scope for discriminatory action by the federal executive. Parsing the various ways in which the internment of the 1940s and the 2017 exclusion order can be reconciled, the Article identifies a tension between the Court’s two holdings in Trump …


What Members Of Congress Say About The Supreme Court And Why It Matters, Carolyn Shapiro Aug 2018

What Members Of Congress Say About The Supreme Court And Why It Matters, Carolyn Shapiro

Chicago-Kent Law Review

Republican and Democratic senators took strikingly different approaches to Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing. Republicans focused on judicial process—what judges are supposed to do, how they are constrained, and the significance of the constitutional separation of powers—evoking rhetoric long used by the political right. Democrats, by contrast, focused primarily on case outcomes, complaining, for example, that Gorsuch favored “the big guy” over “the little guy” in cases he decided as a judge on the Tenth Circuit. This Article critiques the Democrats’ failure to discuss judicial process and to promote their own affirmative vision of the judiciary and the Constitution. A …


The Cunning Of Reason: Michael Klarman's The Framers' Coup, Charles Fried Apr 2018

The Cunning Of Reason: Michael Klarman's The Framers' Coup, Charles Fried

Michigan Law Review

A review of Michael J. Klarman, The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution.


A Matter Of Interpretation: Federal Courts And The Law, Charles R. Priest Mar 2018

A Matter Of Interpretation: Federal Courts And The Law, Charles R. Priest

Maine Law Review

Justice Scalia's engaging essay, “Common-Law Courts in a Civil-Law System: The Role of United States Federal Courts in Interpreting the Constitution and Laws,” and the four comments it provokes, should provide lawyers, judges, and other lawmakers with an interesting evening. Instead of presenting a theoretical view of the role of the federal courts in interpretation, Justice Scalia sketches out a case for “textualism.” “Textualism” is one of several currently contending methods of interpreting statutes and the United States Constitution, and is currently popular among federal judges who see their role as restricting government's powers to those expressly stated in the …


Contra Scalia, Thomas, And Gorsuch: Originalists Should Adopt A Living Constitution, R. Randall Kelso Nov 2017

Contra Scalia, Thomas, And Gorsuch: Originalists Should Adopt A Living Constitution, R. Randall Kelso

University of Miami Law Review

Two main approaches appear in the popular literature on constitutional interpretation: originalism and non-originalism. An originalist approach refers back to some aspect of the framers’ and ratifiers’ intent or action to justify a decision. A non-originalist approach bases the goal of constitutional interpretation in part on consideration of some justification independent of the framers’ and ratifiers’ intent or action.

What is often unappreciated in addressing the question of whether to adopt an originalist or non-originalist approach to constitutional interpretation is the complication that emerges if one concludes that the framing and ratifying generation believed in the model of a living …


Competing Accounts Of Interpretation And Practical Reasoning In The Debate Over Originalism, André Leduc Nov 2017

Competing Accounts Of Interpretation And Practical Reasoning In The Debate Over Originalism, André Leduc

The University of New Hampshire Law Review

This article explores two assumptions about constitutional law and the form of practical reasoning inherent in constitutional argument and decision that have shaped the debate over originalism. The first assumption—adopted by originalists—is that constitutional reasoning is a formalistic process. Originalism’s critics tacitly describe a very different and less formalistic model. The second assumption—shared by originalists and most of its critics alike—is that the central task of constitutional decision is to interpret the Constitution. Both of these assumptions are wrong. Constitutional argument is not, and cannot be, reduced to the formal model of reasoning tacitly employed in originalism. The critics of …


Reverse Political Process Theory, Aaron Tang Oct 2017

Reverse Political Process Theory, Aaron Tang

Vanderbilt Law Review

Despite occasional suggestions to the contrary, the Supreme Court has long since stopped interpreting the Constitution to afford special protection to certain groups on the ground that they are powerless to defend their own interests in the political process. From a series of decisions reviewing laws that burden whites under the same strict scrutiny as laws that burden racial minorities, to the more recent same-sex marriage decision based principally on the fundamental nature of marriage (rather than the political status of gays and lesbians), it is now an uncontroversial observation that when it comes to applying the open-textured provisions of …


Why Enumeration Matters, Richard A. Primus Jan 2016

Why Enumeration Matters, Richard A. Primus

Michigan Law Review

The maxim that the federal government is a government of enumerated powers can be understood as a “continuity tender”: not a principle with practical consequences for governance, but a ritual statement with which practitioners identify themselves with a history from which they descend. This interpretation makes sense of the longstanding paradox whereby courts recite the enumeration principle but give it virtually no practical effect. On this understanding, the enumerated-powers maxim is analogous to the clause that Parliament still uses to open enacted statutes: “Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty.” That text might imply that the Queen is …


The Founders On: "Does The Constitution Work?", Craig A. Stern Dec 2015

The Founders On: "Does The Constitution Work?", Craig A. Stern

ConLawNOW

Whether the Constitution works depends upon the purpose of its working. Discerning that purpose, however, has resisted consensus. Consequently, this article suggests a roundabout way to supply at least a tentative answer to the question whether the Constitution works. The Founders believed that the Constitution, like any republican form of government, would work only for a moral and religious people. They framed and adopted the Constitution in that belief. John Adams warned that without morality and religion, the passions of the people “would break the strongest cords of our Constitution.” A glance at how some cords have fared with a …


Originalism And Its Tools: A Few Caveats, David T. Hardy Dec 2015

Originalism And Its Tools: A Few Caveats, David T. Hardy

ConLawNOW

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the United States Supreme Court adopted original public understanding as an interpretative tool. While this approach has the virtue of establishing meaning independent of a court’s personal values and preferences, this article explores some hazards which courts should try to avoid. First, one must resist the temptation to see historians as invariably objective; some are apt to push a personal agenda, or get a reputation as a “debunker,” at the cost of distorting, overlooking, or even inventing the historical record. Historical studies of this type have misled the Ninth Circuit, and a dissent …


Reversing Time's Arrow: Law's Reordering Of Chronology, Causality, And History, Bruce G. Peabody Jul 2015

Reversing Time's Arrow: Law's Reordering Of Chronology, Causality, And History, Bruce G. Peabody

Akron Law Review

But this Article urges us to use the President’s unintended comments as a prompt for reconsidering how we ordinarily talk about and conceive time and causality ―especially in thinking about law. Through a series of brief case studies culled from politics, culture, and law, this piece begins mapping the frequency, range, and significance of circumstances in which we can claim that the hands of the present grasp and transform the past...Among other benefits, greater awareness of this underappreciated aspect of American legalism can assist scholars and citizens in shedding new light on enduring and important debates involving such areas as …


Countersupermajoritarianism, Frederic Bloom, Nelson Tebbe Apr 2015

Countersupermajoritarianism, Frederic Bloom, Nelson Tebbe

Michigan Law Review

Our Constitution can change. We can amend it, update it, improve it. And so we have—twenty-seven times by one count, many more by another. Everyone recognizes this. But fewer people appreciate that the mechanics of constitutional change can change as well. A method of alteration unaddressed at the founding can grow into established practice. A procedure built into constitutional text can slip into disuse. As much as citizens can change the substance of the Constitution, they can also change the ways they change it. In Originalism and the Good Constitution, John McGinnis and Michael Rappaport make an elegant and provocative …


A Moment For Pragmatism, Jane S. Schacter Apr 2015

A Moment For Pragmatism, Jane S. Schacter

Michigan Law Review

One of the least controversial things to say about the U.S. Constitution is that it has proven very difficult to amend. The numbers are familiar. Only 27 amendments have been made since the Constitution was ratified, and 10 of those were adopted at the same time, only a few years after the original ratification. These numbers are all the more remarkable given that there have been over 11,500 attempts to amend the Constitution since it was first enacted. The paucity of amendments is also striking as a comparative matter. The national constitution that India approved in 1949 has been amended …


Judge Posner's Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman Apr 2015

Judge Posner's Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman

Michigan Law Review

The world is complex, Richard Posner observes in his most recent book, Reflections on Judging. It follows that, for judges to achieve “sensible” resolutions of real-world disputes—by which Judge Posner means “in a way that can be explained in ordinary language and justified as consistent with the expectations of normal people” (p. 354)—they must be able to navigate the world’s complexity successfully. To apply legal rules correctly and (where judicial lawmaking is called for) to formulate legal rules prudently, judges must understand the causal mechanisms and processes that undergird complex systems, and they must be able to draw sound factual …


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 crannies, idiosyncrasies, …


International Norms In Constitutional Law, Michael Wells Sep 2014

International Norms In Constitutional Law, Michael Wells

Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law

No abstract provided.


The Use Of International Sources In Constitutional Opinion, Daniel Bodansky Sep 2014

The Use Of International Sources In Constitutional Opinion, Daniel Bodansky

Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law

No abstract provided.


Restraining The Hand Of Law: A Conceptual Framework To Shrink The Size Of Law, Bryan Druzin Sep 2014

Restraining The Hand Of Law: A Conceptual Framework To Shrink The Size Of Law, Bryan Druzin

West Virginia Law Review

No abstract provided.