The Case for Original Intent
Columbia University - Law School
May 24, 2012
George Washington Law Review, Forthcoming
Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 12-309
This essay, written for a symposium celebrating the centennial of Max Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention, seeks to situate the constitutional culture's heavy reliance on the Convention debates within an academic environment that is generally hostile to original intent arguments. The essay argues that intentionalist-friendly sources like the Convention records and The Federalist remain important not because they supply evidence of original meaning but rather because the practice of advancing historical arguments is best understood as a rhetorical exercise that derives persuasive authority from the heroic character of the founding generation. This exercise fits within a long tradition of originalist argument and need not be abandoned in the quest for a more perfect originalism.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: originalism, original meaning, original intent, federalist, constitutional convention, ethos
Date posted: May 25, 2012 ; Last revised: July 24, 2012
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