Balkin on the Indeterminacy of Originalism

April 2nd, 2013

Depending on how we use history, originalist arguments can point in more than one direction. But that is also true of doctrinal arguments. They aren’t always more determinative, especially at the Supreme Court level. So the big takeaway is that originalism may shape the way that judges argue about the Constitution, but it doesn’t relieve judges of the need to exercise judgment. The reason we hire judges is to judge.

A very interesting interview with Jack on originalism and same-sex marriage.

Update: The last quoted sentence reminded me of something I wrote in The Constitutionality of Social Cost, with respect to how the Second Amendment should be understood in the future:

With regard to how courts should develop the right, I do not hold the key. Judges will invariably do what judges do.