Justice Macalia Textualism

1571 Words 7 Pages
In his essay, A Matter of Interpretation, Justice Antonin Scalia lays out three key elements of textualism, which are also present in different approaches of statutory and constitutional interpretation. These elements guide other constitutional interpretations like, strict constructionism and living/evolving Constitution. The key elements which are present on the already mentioned approaches are: context, meaning and intent. Justice Scalia states in his essay, “in textual interpretation, context is everything” (Scalia 37), however, context is also everything when applying strict constructivism and living/evolving Constitution approaches. Moreover, context directs the way in which the Constitution is interpreted by the Justices who apply the …show more content…
For that reason, the element of intent has different applications between textualism, strict constructionism and living Constitution interpretation. (Scalia 16). For Justices who use textualism, the written words are interpreted as they are written in the text of the law. In textualism, there is no dispute when the letter of the law is clearly written (Scalia 16). Nonetheless, Justice Scalia argues that in the event that intent is not projected well, why not include the right materials for the court’s consideration? (Scalia 16). For that reason, the textualism approach views only the founder’s intent. On the other hand, for Justices who adhere to living/evolving Constitution approach, intent is interpreted in a different manner. For Justices who interpret the law with the living Constitution approach, intent is grounded on what the legislator meant when the law was written. Living Constitution approach, questions if perhaps the legislators misspoke when the law was written (Scalia 16). Moreover, for living Constitution supporters, intent evolves to suit the needs of a progressing society (Scalia 38). Additionally, in the living Constitution approach, the intent of the law is applied to society today. Although there is debate between the competing approaches, the application of the intent of the law is present in textualism, …show more content…
As argued by Judge Richard A. Posner, strict constructionism, or what he refers to as “legal formalism” adheres to principles of the law that are “too narrow” (O’Brien 204). Judge Posner further argues that in legal formalism, the text of the law is meant “to decide whether the right exists,” as they are written in the Constitution (O’Brien 204). By that account, although strict constructionism only reads the text and uses a literal meaning, it still applies the literal intent of the law. For that reason, Judge Posner argues that when using the element of meaning, Judges cannot make their decisions by reading the text directly (O’Brien 207). As Judge Posner states, the Constitution does not say, “read me broadly or read me narrowly” (O’Brien 207), as to suggest that the meaning of the text should not be interpreted

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