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Thread: Constitutional originalism

  1. #11
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by libertariat720 View Post
    Aren't they the same thing?
    An "originalist" follows what is typically referred to as "original intent," which is to say the founders' writings are consulted to see what they meant by one provision or another. A "literalist" or "textualist" is concerned only with the text, and does not care what anyone supposedly "meant." There are other schools of thought as well.

    Of course, it is rare if at all that anyone follows any one school of thought. And that is entirely appropriate. In some cases, the founders left no thoughts behind in writing as to what they meant by something, whether in general or as applied to a particular question; in others, the text is not particularly helpful.

    James Madison held back on publication of his notes on the convention, so that people would follow the document rather than what one or another person thought something "really" meant, which means it was original intent not to follow original intent.
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  2. #12
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macduff View Post
    It's a legal document. The only way to read it is literally.
    Not all legal documents are alike. Even with a written contract*, the intent of the parties controls in cases of ambiguity. Of course, a constitution is not a contract, so the same rules do not apply.

    * Strictly speaking, the agreement rather than the writing is the contract, so the term "written contract" is not an entirely appropriate term.
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  3. #13
    Moderator libertariat720's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jeffrey View Post
    An "originalist" follows what is typically referred to as "original intent," which is to say the founders' writings are consulted to see what they meant by one provision or another. A "literalist" or "textualist" is concerned only with the text, and does not care what anyone supposedly "meant." There are other schools of thought as well.

    Of course, it is rare if at all that anyone follows any one school of thought. And that is entirely appropriate. In some cases, the founders left no thoughts behind in writing as to what they meant by something, whether in general or as applied to a particular question; in others, the text is not particularly helpful.

    James Madison held back on publication of his notes on the convention, so that people would follow the document rather than what one or another person thought something "really" meant, which means it was original intent not to follow original intent.
    Effectiveley they're the same thing, because even when just reading the words, you're still interpreting what each word means in the given context.

    The federalist papers are a pretty comprehensive guide to the founder's philosophies, at least Hamilton and Madison.

  4. #14
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kallie Knoetze View Post
    Mr. RNG,

    Please go back and read the Constitution and get back to me where it says "Because we fear a standing army, a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    I'll wait.
    RNG's point is that his RW interlocutor claimed to be an originalist - except that he made a textualist rather than an originalist argument as to the Second Amendment. An originalist would not adhere to a strict interpretation of the mere text, but would rely on various original sources to divine the founders' intent.
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    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by libertariat720 View Post
    Effectiveley they're the same thing, because even when just reading the words, you're still interpreting what each word means in the given context.
    They are not the same thing. It is true that a textualist interprets the words and the language for a given context. But an originalist does something different, relying on interpretations that go beyond the text (and possibly in conflict with the text).

    Quote Originally Posted by libertariat720 View Post
    The federalist papers are a pretty comprehensive guide to the founder's philosophies, at least Hamilton and Madison.
    The Federalist Papers are helpful with respect to Hamilton and Madison (and John Jay, to a limited extent - he only wrote 6 of the Papers). However, 55 delegates attended the Convention, and several did not sign it. Furthermore, as far as originalism goes, there were quite a few state conventions, who all probably had their own respective takes on what various provisions meant. Certainly, there are some original sources to be had, but they are often contradictory. It is why Madison preferred that people rely on the document they produced rather than what was in the minds of the drafters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jeffrey View Post
    RNG's point is that his RW interlocutor claimed to be an originalist - except that he made a textualist rather than an originalist argument as to the Second Amendment. An originalist would not adhere to a strict interpretation of the mere text, but would rely on various original sources to divine the founders' intent.
    Mr. Jeffrey,

    In your shallow opinion. However, the Founding Father's intent was that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed, which is exactly what the text says.

    It's like saying that the current state of social media, and fake news was never envisioned by the founding fathers, ergo, the Congress should make laws to restrict free speech and the free press.
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  7. #17
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kallie Knoetze View Post
    In your shallow opinion.
    No, in actual fact. An originalist and a textualist may come to the same conclusion, but their arguments will be entirely different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Jeffrey View Post
    No, in actual fact. An originalist and a textualist may come to the same conclusion, but their arguments will be entirely different.
    Mr. Jeffrey,

    In your shallow opinion. However, in the terms of the Constitution, they are entirely the same.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macduff View Post
    It's a legal document. The only way to read it is literally.
    So, it does not matter in the least what certain people ascertain the Founding Fathers meant, thought or intended. All that matters is what the words actually say, as in taken LITERALLY. Correct?

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by libertariat720 View Post
    Read the federalist papers. It's all spelled out in there.

    Avalon Project - The Federalist Papers
    So, you disagree strongly with Macduff's comment?

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