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We are all familiar with the image of the immensely clever judge who discerns the best rule of common law for the case at hand. According to U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a judge like this can maneuver through earlier cases to achieve the desired aim--"distinguishing one prior case on his left, straight-arming another one on his right, high-stepping away from another precedent about to tackle him from the rear, until (bravo!) he reaches the goal--good law. " But is this common-law mindset, which is appropriate in its place, suitable also in statutory and constitutional interpretation? In a witty and trenchant essay, Justice Scalia answers this question with a resounding negative. In exploring the neglected art of statutory interpretation, Scalia urges that judges resist the temptation to use legislative intention and legislative history. In his view, it is incompatible with democratic government to allow the meaning of a statute to be determined by what the judges think the lawgivers meant rather than by what the legislature actually promulgated. Eschewing the judicial lawmaking that is the essence of common law, judges should interpret statutes and regulations by focusing on the text itself. Scalia then extends this principle to constitutional law. He proposes that we abandon the notion of an everchanging Constitution and pay attention to the Constitution's original meaning. Although not subscribing to the "strict constructionism" that would prevent applying the Constitution to modern circumstances, Scalia emphatically rejects the idea that judges can properly "smuggle" in new rights or deny old rights by using the Due Process Clause, for instance. In fact, such judicial discretion might lead to the destruction of the Bill of Rights if a majority of the judges ever wished to reach that most undesirable of goals. This essay is followed by four commentaries by Professors Gordon Wood, Laurence Tribe, Mary Ann Glendon, and Ronald Dworkin, who engage Justice Scalia's ideas about judicial interpretation from varying standpoints.
What did the Constitution mean at the time it was adopted? How should we interpret today the words used by the Founding Fathers? In ORIGINALISM: A QUARTER-CENTURY OF DEBATE, these questions are explained and dissected by the very people who continue to shape the legal structure of our country. Inside you'll find: *A foreword by Justice Antonin Scalia and speeches by former attorney general Edwin Meese III, Justice William Brennan, Judge Robert H. Bork, and President Ronald Reagan *Transcripts from panel discussions and debates engaging some of the brightest legal minds of our time in frank, open discussions about the original meaning of the Constitution of the United States and its impact on the rule of law in our country *A debate on the original meaning of the Commerce, Spending, and Necessary and Proper Clauses *Concluding thoughts by Theodore Olson, forty-second solicitor general of the United States and a fellow at both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. ORIGINALISM: A QUARTER-CENTURY OF DEBATE is a lively and fascinating discussion of an issue that has occupied the greatest legal minds in America, and one that continues to elicit strong reactions from both those who support and those who oppose the rule of law. Steven G. Calabresi, co-founder of the Federalist Society and professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law, has compiled an impressive collection of speeches, panel discussions, and debates from some of the greatest and most prominent legal experts of the last twenty-five years.
Attorney Ring has assembled Justice Antonin Scalia's most scathing, most poignant, and most accessible opinions to date. Specific rulings and speeches are explained as Ring invites readers into the judicial world.
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