Volokh Speaks

Eugene VolokhEugene Volokh held a lecture at the University of Utah last night. It was titled Constitutional Originalism and Heller v. D.C.. It was an informal lecture that mostly stayed in layman terms, but occasionally strayed into legal territory. IMO it was fantastic and fascinating.  He mostly stuck to the topic and explained how originalism informed both sides of the decision. While that seems contradictory, he was able to easily show the reasoning and thought process behind both the majority and minority opinions.

One of the most interesting points was that this type of originalism wasn’t even possible 10, 20, 30 years ago. The advent of the internet and then the subsequent (slow) uploading of thousands of period documents enabled quick and relatively easy searches for supporting documents, and contextual/temporal phraseology. This decision has the most supporting documents by nearly 3-1 over any other SCOTUS decision in history. Absolutely groundbreaking.

Volokh went through the major points of each side of the decision and broke the arguments down and discussed period supporting documents. He also gave several admonishments about getting too confident in this decision or the recent trend towards originalism. Originalism can be a bit of a cul-de-sac, and care must taken balancing between understanding the drafters and ratifiers intent, but also not “being led by a dead hand.” According to Volokh he will be releasing the lecture to the public, probably on his website.

I highly recommend seeing his lecture if he comes through your area. It will both energize and frighten you a little.

We can’t get complacent.


~ by Cram on November 11, 2008.

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