The 'Originalism is Not History' Disclaimer: A Historian's Rebuttal

63 Cleveland State Law Review Et Cetera 1, May 2015

11 Pages Posted: 6 May 2015

See all articles by Patrick J. Charles

Patrick J. Charles

Government of the United States of America - Air Force

Date Written: May 4, 2015

Abstract

A number of originalists are on record asserting the disclaimer that “orginalism is not history,” therefore claiming that originalism does not suffer from the problems typically associated with history-in-law. This Article challenges that assertion, both on the grounds that originalism relies on historical evidence in reaching legal determinations — therefore falsely giving rise to the presumption that originalism and history are one and the same — and also on the grounds that originalists, when advocating before the courts, do not make a distinction between originalism and history. This Article further argues that if originalists want to issue an accurate disclaimer, it should state that “originalism is not intended to be accurate history.” This would correct many of the public’s misconceptions as to what does and what does not constitute originalism.

Keywords: originalism, history in law

Suggested Citation

Charles, Patrick J., The 'Originalism is Not History' Disclaimer: A Historian's Rebuttal (May 4, 2015). 63 Cleveland State Law Review Et Cetera 1, May 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2602575

Patrick J. Charles (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America - Air Force ( email )

Washington, DC
United States

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