Why Do (Some) Originalists Hate America?
Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 20-02
Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 20-04
30 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2020 Last revised: 29 Nov 2021
Date Written: March 27, 2020
Imagine a regime whose fundamental law is only to be found in ancient archives. Their mysterious contents take years to unearth, layer by layer. With new discoveries, bodies of established law are unexpectedly invalidated and discarded. Others, previously rejected, spring back into life as the scholars revise earlier conclusions. The operations of government are in constant confusion. This state of affairs is likely to persist indefinitely.
That doesn’t sound attractive, does it? But that is where a prominent strand of modern originalist constitutional theory would lead us. This essay is a critique of originalist methodology. But the deepest flaw in this program is not its methodological errors, but its weird political ideal.
Keywords: Originalism, Constitutional Law, William Baude, Stephen Sachs, Corpus linguistics
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation