It's a Wonderful Originalism! Lawrence Solum and the Thesis of Immaculate Recovery
DPCE [Diritto Pubblico Comparato ed Europeo] Online 31:3 (Oct. 2017), 653-60
8 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 11, 2017
Part of an online symposium on Professor Lawrence Solum's account of originalism, this essay criticizes Solum's implicit "thesis of immaculate recovery." This thesis presupposes that constitutional meaning exists in the past as an object, and can be recovered in its pristine objective form, untouched by concerns of the present. The essay argues instead that the meaning produced by originalist method is neither immaculate nor even a recovery, and that present concerns are not obstacles to understanding the past, but the very ground of that understanding. It uses a classic American film, "It's a Wonderful Life," to illustrate the argument.
Keywords: Gadamer, Heidegger, Hermeneutics, It’s a Wonderful Life, Originalism
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