My New Class, Originalism and its Critics

My new colleague Eric Posner has a post on his new blog about a class that we will be teaching together this quarter, Originalism and its Critics:

I have long been skeptical of originalism, and my interest in it is more sociological than intellectual. I hope to learn from this seminar why originalism is appealing to so many people (but mainly conservatives), and why it plays such an important role (at least, as a matter of rhetoric) in constitutional politics. If you are interested, here is our syllabus (Originalism and Its Critics syllabus dec. 12). I will post reactions to the articles as I read them, and perhaps Will will post his own reactions at the Volokh Conspiracy where he blogs.

On Twitter, Steven Duffield asks why nothing by Robert Bork was included. The short answer is that quarters are short, and reading assignments need to be manageable.

The longer answer probably reflects my own bias about what is important for understanding originalist scholarship and jurisprudence today. Bork was of course very important at the time that he wrote, but I tend to think that most of his important insights have filtered into the next generation of scholarship (some of which is written by his former students). Moreover, I think some modern criticisms of originalism tend to misfire — at least to those who haven’t made up their minds already — because they are taking aim at the earlier generation of scholarship (like Bork’s) rather than the next generation, which has modified and improved on it.

In any event, I’m very excited about the class!

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