Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

We’re All Originalists Now

Nixon famously said in 1971, "We’re all Keynesians now," and as I listened in C-SPAN radio yesterday to the oral argument in the DC gun control case at the Supreme Court, it struck me that even the liberals on the Court are all "originalists" now. I can’t remember a recent Court argument where the intent of the Founders, and the role of Blackstone, the English Bill of Rights, and the intent and understanding of Madison and the Founders in writing the Bill of Rights, was so central to the argument. The liberals struggled mightily to find an originalist ground to preserve some space for government to regulate handguns, but seemed to me trying to make water run uphill. To me this represents a broad triumph of the cause of originalism, even if we’re still far from restoring an older jurisprudence of natural rights.

Now, of course, Nixon declared himself a Keynesian just before the doctrine began its last gasps, and, with one or two Obama/Hillary appointments, the "organic" and un-originalist Constitution could be back in business big time. But for now we should slap around some liberals on this.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Steve, while I agree with your larger point, I'm shocked to hear that Keynesianism had its last gasps in the 1970s. In light of the recent "stimulus package", and the Fed's reckless cutting of interest rates, it sure seems as though Keynes's theories are alive and well!

Wouldn't it be fun for a conservative nominee for the Court to respond to every question by saying: "I believe in a living constitution, and as I understand current circumstances, today's circumstances would justify x, y, and z."

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