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06/22/2017

Stephen Sachs: Originalism Without Text
Michael Ramsey

Stephen E. Sachs (Duke University School of Law) has posted Originalism Without Text (Yale Law Journal, forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Originalism is not about the text. Though the theory is often treated as a way to read the Constitution's words, that conventional view is misleading. A society can be recognizably originalist without any words to interpret: without a written constitution, written statutes, or any writing at all. If texts aren't fundamental to originalism, then originalism isn't fundamentally about texts. Avoiding that error helps us see what originalism generally is about: namely, our present constitutional law, and its dependence on a crucial moment in the past.