The Importance Of Constitutional Interpretation: Originalism

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The judicial role of determining constitutionality looks like a seemingly simple process: the judge, an important part of the separation of powers, determines whether a law is in accordance with the constitution or not. In reality, the responsibility of the judicial system is far from that generalized perspective, and this is where the great debate begins. When interpreting the constitution, there are two distantly polar ways of reading it. There are originalists (Scalia and Bork) who contend that it is important to uncover the framers’ intent when applying the constitution to today’s issues, while the living constitutionalists (Tribe, Dworkin, and Brennan) read the constitution in a modern context, providing for the evolution of society. While the living constitutionalists make a convincing case, their arguments do not stand up to the originalist arguments when applied to historical accounts of constitutional interpretation.

Constitutional Interpretation: Originalism

While it would be a hasty generalization to say that all judges are either purely an originalist or a living constitutionalist, justice Scalia
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Scalia argues that the key to making a court democratic is by interpreting the Constitution according to the framers’ intent. Scalia writes, “words do have a limited range of meaning, and no interpretation that goes beyond that range is permissible” In other words, there are only so many ways to interpret a statute without going beyond what the legislature intended. In addition, Scalia addresses the concerns of critics when it comes to using ambiguous passages in the Constitution. Scalia replies by saying, “judges must do their best to figure out, first, the original meaning of laws and, second, the practical implications given new contexts for those original meanings.” To support that argument, Scalia cites the First Amendment

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