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Last week, while Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was holding forth about how she applies originalism, invoking her mentor and former boss Justice Antonin Scalia, current Supreme Court justices were undermining an originalist opinion authored by Scalia. Nominee Barrett explained originalism: “I understand [the Constitution] to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn’t change over time, and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”

Oral arguments in Torres v. Madrid make clear that, for some justices, originalism is appropriate, except when it isn’t.


Reprinted with the permission from the Oct. 21 issue of The Recorder© 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.