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Constitutional OriginalismA Debate$
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Robert.W Bennett and Lawrence B. Solum

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801447938

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801447938.001.0001

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Living with Originalism

Living with Originalism

Chapter:
(p.143) Living with Originalism
Source:
Constitutional Originalism
Author(s):

Lawrence B. Solum

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801447938.003.0003

This chapter comments on Robert Bennett's critique of originalism, especially the latter's claim that the original meaning of the Constitution cannot constrain constitutional decision making. Bennett argues that the constitutional text imposes some constraints on constitutional interpretation, but notes that this constraint is modest at best. He advances various arguments in support of his claim that constitutional practice cannot be constrained by original meaning. The chapter first considers Frederic Waismann's theory that language is open-textured before discussing Bennett's arguments against the constraining force of originalism in more detail. It also examines the conventional semantic meanings of the words and phrases that make up the Constitution, objections to original-intentions originalism, and the role of values in constitutional construction. The chapter concludes by addressing the relationship between originalism and politics.

Keywords:   originalism, Robert Bennett, Constitution, constitutional decision making, constitutional interpretation, Frederic Waismann, semantic meanings, original-intentions originalism, constitutional construction, politics

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