Friday Follow-Up: The Constitution’s Original Meaning

I continued to be impressed by the quality of our meetings.  Hell,  I’m impressed that fifteen people would even show up to discuss a topic related to Constitutional law.  We seem to be able to have interesting discussions on almost anything.  Here are a few follow-up links to topics we couldn’t really get into because of their narrowness and complexity.


  • As I explained, I personally don’t have much use for the originalist school of Constitutional interpretation.  In my experience, “original intent” is mainly used as a political slogan to delegitimize anyone who disagrees with conservative political preferences.
  • However, on an academic level, originalism (related to but not identical to “textualism,” I believe) can be more subtle and deserving of respect.  Here are some articles that get into the thick weeds a bit but reflect originalist thinking.  They are from the legal blog called the Volokh Conspiracy, the only conservative law-oriented blog I read.
  • In sharp contrast, read this explanation of the “Tenther” movement.  As I mentioned, people who focus on the 10th amendment believe the every expansion of federal power since the New Deal (since 1900, really) is unconstituitional.  We had a voice implying such a viewpoint last night.  Tentherism rapidly is becoming a pillar of conservative political thought.   It ain’t just Rand Paul.


  • This site, “The Constitution In 2020” is great.  It excerpts many of the chapters from the book of the same name.  Each one covers a different topic.  I’d recommend (to Peter, especially) at least the first two and the one on federalism.  One of the main authors, Jack Balkin, has a heavy-duty (liberal) legal theory blog here.
  • Book I referenced:  The Radicalism Of The American Revolution.  Way cool explanation of what was truly new and revolutionary in our nation’s founding —  a change from a hierarchical view of political and social relations to a more egalitarian one. 
  • I also added “Lies The Government Told You” to the Books We like tab at the top of the homepage, per Jess’s suggestion.  The author appears to be a strong proponent of the “Constitution in exile” theory; i.e., that the pre-New Deal, 1880s-era interpretation of federal power should be restored.

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