Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2017

Keywords

originalism, text, original meaning, original law, constitution, interpretation, unwritten law

Abstract

Originalism is not about the text. Though the theory is often treated as a way to read the Constitution's words, that conventional view is misleading. A society can be recognizably originalist without any words to interpret: without a written constitution, written statutes, or any writing at all. If texts aren't fundamental to originalism, then originalism isn't fundamentally about texts. Avoiding that error helps us see what originalism generally *is* about: namely, our present constitutional law, and its dependence on a crucial moment in the past.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Constitutional law, Law--Interpretation and construction, Jurisprudence

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