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Full-Text Articles in Law

Presidential Constitutional Interpretation, Signing Statements, Executive Power And Zivotofsky, Henry L. Chambers, Jr. Oct 2016

Presidential Constitutional Interpretation, Signing Statements, Executive Power And Zivotofsky, Henry L. Chambers, Jr.

Law Faculty Publications

This Article explores whether the President should interpret the Constitution aggressively and, if so, whether the President should act on such aggressive interpretations. Part I examines whether the presidential oath and other constitutional duties obligate the President to interpret the Constitution. Part II considers constitutional signing statements as the manifestation of an aggressive approach to presidential constitutional interpretation. Part III considers whether the Constitution is a legal document or a political document, and how that determination might affect how aggressive the President should be when interpreting the Constitution. Part IV considers how the Supreme Court's and Congress's constitutional interpretations might …


Reflections Of An Empirical Reader (Or: Could Fleming Be Right This Time?), Gary S. Lawson Jul 2016

Reflections Of An Empirical Reader (Or: Could Fleming Be Right This Time?), Gary S. Lawson

Faculty Scholarship

Professor Jim Fleming’s new book, Fidelity to Our Imperfect Constitution: For Moral Readings and Against Originalisms, purports to critique all forms of originalism from the perspective of Professor Fleming’s “moral reading” of, or “philosophic approach” to, the Constitution. I propose a somewhat different opposition: empirical reading versus moral reading. Empirical reading is necessarily originalist, but it focuses directly on the need to ground interpretation in theories of concepts, language, and communication. In this short comment, I outline the research agenda for a theory of empirical reading, explore the extent to which empirical readings and moral readings of the Constitution are …


The Moral Reading As A Practice: A Response To Three Comments On Fidelity To Our Imperfect Constitution, James E. Fleming Jul 2016

The Moral Reading As A Practice: A Response To Three Comments On Fidelity To Our Imperfect Constitution, James E. Fleming

Faculty Scholarship

In recent years, many originalists have claimed a monopoly on concern for fidelity in constitutional interpretation. In my book, Fidelity to Our Imperfect Constitution, 1 I reject originalisms—whether old or new, concrete or abstract, living or dead. Instead, I defend what Ronald Dworkin called a “moral reading” of the United States Constitution, or a “philosophic approach” to constitutional interpretation. I refer to conceptions of the Constitution as embodying abstract moral and political principles—not codifying concrete historical rules or practices—and of interpretation of those principles as requiring normative judgments about how they are best understood—not merely historical research to discover relatively …


Is The Constitution Special?, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe Jan 2016

Is The Constitution Special?, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

"[W]e must never forget, that it is a constitution we are expounding.” If there was such a danger when Chief Justice John Marshall wrote those words, there is none today. Americans regularly assume that the Constitution is special, and legal professionals treat it differently from other sources of law. But what if that is wrongheaded? In this Article, we identify and question the professional practice of constitutional exceptionalism. First, we show that standard arguments from text, structure, and history work differently in constitutional law. Second, we examine the possible justifications for such distinctive interpretation among lawyers, and we find them …


Enduring Originalism, Jeffrey Pojanowski, Kevin C. Walsh Jan 2016

Enduring Originalism, Jeffrey Pojanowski, Kevin C. Walsh

Journal Articles

If our law requires originalism in constitutional interpretation, then that would be a good reason to be an originalist. This insight animates what many have begun to call the “positive turn” in originalism. Defenses of originalism in this vein are “positive” in that they are based on the status of the Constitution, and constitutional law, as positive law. This approach shifts focus away from abstract conceptual or normative arguments about interpretation and focuses instead on how we actually understand and apply the Constitution as law. On these grounds, originalism rests on a factual claim about the content of our law: …


How Presidents Interpret The Constitution, Harold H. Bruff Jan 2016

How Presidents Interpret The Constitution, Harold H. Bruff

Publications

No abstract provided.


The Meming Of Substantive Due Process, Jamal Greene Jan 2016

The Meming Of Substantive Due Process, Jamal Greene

Faculty Scholarship

Substantive due process is notoriously regarded as a textual contradiction, but it is in fact redundant. The word "due" cannot be honored except by inquiring into the relationship between the nature and scope of the deprived interest and the process-whether judicial, administrative, or legislative-that attended the deprivation. The treatment of substantive due process as an oxymoron is what this Essay calls a constitutional meme, an idea that replicates through imitation within the constitutional culture rather than (necessarily) through logical persuasion. We might even call the idea a "precedent," in the nature of other legal propositions within a common law system. …


Constitutional Bad Faith, David E. Pozen Jan 2016

Constitutional Bad Faith, David E. Pozen

Faculty Scholarship

The concepts of good faith and bad faith play a central role in many areas of private law and international law. Typically associated with honesty, loyalty, and fair dealing, good faith is said to supply the fundamental principle of every legal system, if not the foundation of all law. With limited exceptions, however, good faith and bad faith go unmentioned in constitutional cases brought by or against government institutions. This doctrinal deficit is especially striking given that the U.S. Constitution twice refers to faithfulness and that insinuations of bad faith pervade constitutional discourse.

This Article investigates these points and their …


Rule Originalism, Jamal Greene Jan 2016

Rule Originalism, Jamal Greene

Faculty Scholarship

Constitutional rules are norms whose application depends on an interpreter's identification of a set of facts rather than on her exercise of practical judgment. This Article argues that constitutional interpreters in the United States tend to resolve ambiguity over constitutional rules by reference to originalist sources and tend to resolve uncertainty over the scope of constitutional standards by reference to nonoriginalist sources. This positive claim unsettles the frequent assumption that the Constitution's more specifw or structural provisions support straightforward interpretive inferences. Normatively, this Article offers a partial defense of what it calls "rule originalism," grounded in the fact of its …


Is The Constitution Special?, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe Jan 2016

Is The Constitution Special?, Christopher Serkin, Nelson Tebbe

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

“[W]e must never forget, that it is a constitution we are expounding.” If there was such a danger when Chief Justice John Marshall wrote those words, there is none today. Americans regularly assume that the Constitution is special, and legal professionals treat it differently from other sources of law. But what if that is wrongheaded? In this Article, we identify and question the professional practice of constitutional exceptionalism. First, we show that standard arguments from text, structure, and history work differently in constitutional law. Second, we examine the possible justifications for such distinctive interpretation among lawyers, and we find them …


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 …