Justice Scalia and Queen Anne

Huffington Post (2015)
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Abstract
This article explores problems with several definitions of Originalism proposed by Justice Scalia in "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts." It begins by looking at Justice Scalia's citation of a possible statement by Queen Anne that Justice Scalia claims in itself justifies Originalism. Queen Anne may have told Sir Christopher Wren that St. Paul's Cathedral was "awful, artificial, and amusing" at a time when those words meant "awe-inspiring, highly artistic, and thought-provoking." Conceding that one must understand how Queen Anne meant these terms, this article shows how this example actually undermines Originalism when applied to on-going rules. It also explores inconsistencies and problems with several definitions of Originalism including Justice Scalia's arbitrary exclusion of technology from the constraints of "original meaning." It further disputes his claim that Originalism ". . .will narrow the range of acceptable judicial decision-making and acceptable argumentation [and that it] will curb -- even reverse -- the tendency of judges to imbue authoritative texts with their own policy preferences." This article maintains that Originalism has the opposite effect. Keywords: originalism, original meaning, Scalia, interpretation, meaning
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Archival date: 2019-05-10
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