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Restoring the Lost ConstitutionThe Presumption of Liberty$
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Randy E. Barnett

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159737

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159737.001.0001

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Constitutional Interpretation: An Originalism for Nonoriginalists

Constitutional Interpretation: An Originalism for Nonoriginalists

(p.91) Chapter Four Constitutional Interpretation: An Originalism for Nonoriginalists
Restoring the Lost Constitution

Randy E. Barnett

Princeton University Press

This chapter argues that the Constitution must be interpreted according to its original meaning. This method of interpretation is commonly known as “originalism,” which is often seen as following from popular sovereignty. The chapter suggests that originalism is entailed by a commitment to a written constitution, which is a vital means of subjecting lawmakers to limits on their lawmaking powers. The chapter first examines how considerations of constitutional legitimacy justify originalism before advancing a version of originalism that is based on “original meaning” rather than “original intent.” It explains how original meaning originalism avoids the prominent objections leveled at originalism. It shows that originalism is warranted because it is the best method to preserve or “lock in” a constitution that is initially legitimate because of what is says.

Keywords:   originalism, U.S. Constitution, original meaning, popular sovereignty, constitutional legitimacy, original intent

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