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Fred Smith on Mila Sohoni on Procedural Originalism
Michael Ramsey

At Jotwell, Fred O. Smith Jr. (Emory): Originalism's Procedural Puzzle (commenting on Mila Sohoni, The Puzzle of Procedural Originalism, 72 Duke L.J. 941 (2023)).  From the introduction: 

Here is the puzzle. On one hand, various species of originalism have ostensibly come to dominate American constitutional law. “We are all originalists,” Justice Elena Kagan contended during her 2010 confirmation hearings. “Is originalism our law?” William Baude asked in widely cited 2015 Columbia Law Review article. (His answer was a qualified and nuanced “yes.”) And in the last couple of years, originalism at the Supreme Court has become broad and deep. Broad, in that originalist arguments have proven resistant to countervailing methodological tools such as precedent or even text, allowing originalist arguments to prevail in a wider range of constitutional settings. Deep, in that on issues such as gun rights, the Court has demanded more and more in the way of precise historical analogies from the Founding (or the Second Founding).

On the other hand, Mila Sohoni observes that despite originalism’s rise, one area has been mostly absent from originalism’s reach—procedure. Sohoni focuses on a body of law she terms “constitutional civil procedure,” explaining that a number of important questions in civil procedure turn on interpretations and constructions of constitutional text. Sohoni cabins her analysis to constitutional doctrines that tend to be taught in civil procedure as opposed to courses on constitutional law, federal courts, or remedies. Originalism has barely touched core questions of civil procedure. “It would be tempting to say that all this has been hidden in plain view, but that would only be a half-truth. Civil procedure’s nonoriginalism hasn’t been hidden at all. And yet—until recently—few originalists have faulted procedural law for its infidelity to original meaning.” (P. 992.)

Sohoni offers numerous examples; consider three...

(Via Howard Wasserman at Prawfsblawg.)