A Textualist Argument for a Living Constitution


I think the basic intuition behind textualism correct – that the meaning of a law is fixed by referencing the meaning of its words according to the meaning common to the law’s ratifiers. However, even if true, it does not follow that interpretation of a law goes through the original ratifiers. Rather, a citizenry continually ratifies the laws to which it subjects itself, and as the meanings of those words change over time, so will those laws. Concerning, say, the U.S. Constitution, though the text may be very nearly the same now as in the 18th century, a different constitution is in effect.

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A.j. Kreider
Miami-Dade Community College


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