Justice Thomas on Reading the Constitution

Justice Thomas puts it almost exactly as I have to my students:

…there are really only two ways to interpret the Constitution — try to discern as best we can what the framers intended or make it up.

That’s exactly right. Either you try to judge on the basis of what the Constitution says or you make it up as you go.  Liberal interpretive strategies aren’t intellectually well-founded or even sophisticated; they’re elaborate covers for letting judges exercise their own philosophical and political preferences.

No matter how ingenious, imaginative or artfully put, unless interpretive methodologies are tied to the original intent of the framers, they have no more basis in the Constitution than the latest football scores. To be sure, even the most conscientious effort to adhere to the original intent of the framers of our Constitution is flawed, as all methodologies and human institutions are; but at least originalism has the advantage of being legitimate and, I might add, impartial.

2 thoughts on “Justice Thomas on Reading the Constitution

  1. Justice Thomas is one of my heroes on SCOTUS. The other being Antonin Scalia. I wish them both continued long and healthy lives.

  2. If you’re a Constitutional Law prof, I would enjoy a series with the general theme “WTF the 10th Amendment?”, because it seems a rather prophetic one-liner concerning the contemporary problems the corporate ‘we’ face.

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