The Immorality of Originalism
56 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2022 Last revised: 20 Jan 2022
Date Written: December 12, 2021
The central claim of this essay is that in interpreting the U.S. Constitution, it is immoral to choose original intent over social welfare, broadly conceived. Once this argument is laid out and defended on its own terms, I support the central claim with a variety of arguments, including the defective process pursuant to which the Constitution was enacted, the deeply flawed substantive content of the Constitution, the incongruity of fidelity to the views of a generation of revolutionaries, the current virtual imperviousness of the Constitution to amendment, the failure of the Constitution to resolve fundamental questions concerning the allocation of power within the government, which leads to dependence on the un-democratic Supreme Court to resolve important and controversial social issues and finally originalism’s tendency to force otherwise honorable people to lie or obfuscate about the reasons for their official decisions.
Keywords: constitutional interpretation, originalism
JEL Classification: K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation