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Worse Than Nothing: The Dangerous Fallacy of Originalism

par Erwin Chemerinsky

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Originalism, the view that the meaning of a constitutional provision is fixed when it is adopted, was once the fringe theory of a few extremely conservative legal scholars but is now a well-accepted mode of constitutional interpretation. Three of the Supreme Court's nine justices explicitly embrace the originalist approach, as do increasing numbers of judges in the lower courts. Noted legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky gives a comprehensive analysis of the problems that make originalism unworkable as a method of constitutional interpretation. He argues that the framers themselves never intended constitutional interpretation to be inflexible and shows how it is often impossible to know what the "original intent" of any particular provision was. Perhaps worst of all, though its supporters tout it as a politically neutral and objective method, originalist interpretation tends to disappear when its results fail to conform to modern conservative ideology.… (plus d'informations)
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Clear and accessible description of the world that conservative originalists intend for us all to live in. While they pretend their arguments are principled and constitutional, in fact, as Chemerinsky demonstrates, they are political designs cloaked, when convenient and expedient, in a thin veneer of "objective" jurisprudence.

The belief that we should live in a world designed by men in the 18th century beggars the imagination. Society is incomparably larger, more complex, and more global than anything the Founders could have imagined. To argue that we are bound by the agrarian society that endorsed slavery, enfranchised only white propertied men, and consisted of only thirteen of today's fifty states, is sheer lunacy. Nonetheless, the majority of the Supreme Court, thanks to the machinations of Mitch McConnell in collusion with Donald Trump, espouse that very belief. We've already seen them overturn Roe and prepare the way to criminalize abortion (again), while this term they're very likely to eliminate affirmative action and tear down the wall between religion and the state.

Chemerinsky's book presents this in a thorough and authoritative manner, so that even originalists should feel they have a burden to show where he is wrong, rather than just pretend their political religion is self-evidently true. ( )
1 voter dono421846 | Oct 8, 2022 |
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Originalism, the view that the meaning of a constitutional provision is fixed when it is adopted, was once the fringe theory of a few extremely conservative legal scholars but is now a well-accepted mode of constitutional interpretation. Three of the Supreme Court's nine justices explicitly embrace the originalist approach, as do increasing numbers of judges in the lower courts. Noted legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky gives a comprehensive analysis of the problems that make originalism unworkable as a method of constitutional interpretation. He argues that the framers themselves never intended constitutional interpretation to be inflexible and shows how it is often impossible to know what the "original intent" of any particular provision was. Perhaps worst of all, though its supporters tout it as a politically neutral and objective method, originalist interpretation tends to disappear when its results fail to conform to modern conservative ideology.

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