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Originalism and the Kavanaugh Hearings [Updated]
Michael Ramsey

At City Journal, John McGinnis has this assessment:

Republican senators repeatedly invited Kavanaugh to nail his colors to textualism in statutory interpretation and public-meaning originalism in constitutional interpretation. He happily did so. The Democrats notably did not challenge him on these responses. Thus, the most important message from the hearings on constitutional law—as opposed to political theater—is that formal approaches to law, textualism, and originalism have become mainstream legal philosophies outside of the legal academy.

Agreed.  Here is another indication:  During the Gorsuch hearings, commentators launched broad and harsh attacks on originalism, trying to paint it as extreme and unworkable (here's a notable example).  Its defenders responded, including in Larry Solum's testimony to the Senate committee.  The hearings ended up generating a sustained and fairly sophisticated debate over originalism.  In the Kavanaugh hearings, opposition commentary mostly took a different tack.  Judge Kavanaugh is not really an originalist, it was said (even though Judge Kavanaugh said he is).  More importantly, originalism (it was widely argued) is just a cover for conservative legal outcomes.  The turn away from the merits of originalism was so marked that I abandoned my proposed series correcting common errors about originalism in popular commentary -- there weren't enough errors because originalism wasn't widely under attack.  And even when it was, the attack was mostly a side point in the course of making the point about conservative results.  This commentary by Max Boot is typical, beginning: "Aside possibly from a few members of the Federalist Society, which helped to put together President Trump’s master list of court nominees, few people, including the president himself, are interested in judicial philosophy. They’re interested in political outcomes."  

UPDATE:  As a further example, Eric Segall in today's New York Times: Does Originalism Matter Anymore?

(Thanks to Michael J. Perry for the pointer).

I conclude that the attacks on originalism during the Gorsuch hearings were seen as failures -- in the sense that they failed to persuasively portray originalism as outside the mainstream.  Thus they were not widely repeated during the Kavanaugh hearings; the new charge, one might say, became that Kavanaugh isn't originalist enough (because he is too devoted to conservative outcomes).  Whether or not that new charge is true, the shift confirms Professor McGinnis' reaction.

FURTHER UPDATE:  Eric Segall comments:

The reason originalism is no longer seen outside the mainstream is that sophisticated observers believe that the doctrine has been watered down by Justices Scalia and Thomas so much, and now by Kavanaugh's and McGinnis' insistence that "consequences" can be taken into account by "Originalist judges" that outside the writings of a few scholars, such as Ramsey, Rappaport and Paulsen, there is no longer any difference on the ground between originalists and non-originalists.