Is Originalism Just a Means for Conservative Ends? [No. 86]
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Is Originalism Just a Means for Conservative Ends? [No. 86]

Originalists are often accused of using originalism
merely as a means for conservative ends, and of course like any tool, and any method of
interpretation originalism sometimes can be, and sometimes is used improperly, merely as
a rationalization for conservative results. But done properly originalism does not lead
merely to conservative results. Conservatives may not like taxes. They may think senators should be elected
by state legislatures, but the constitution permits the federal government to lay taxes
and it permits senators to be directly elected by the people. Originalists accept the bitter with the sweet,
the bad with the good. Having said that, there is a deeper connection
between originalism and conservatism properly understood. What is conservatism? Well, in the American context, conservatism
seeks to conserve the traditionally liberal principles of our founding: self-government,
ordered liberty, and equality under law. And what is originalism? Originalism is the method of constitutional
interpretation that seeks to preserve the original legal content of the constitution
that was intended to breathe life into those principles.


  • Aron Astron

    For a long time, originalism seemed to push the conservative agenda because only conservatives made originalist arguments. Now that liberals and progressives are making more originalist arguments before the courts in "Gorsuch briefs" and the like, I think originalism will be much more expansive among people of different political stripes.

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