It is impossible to understand the present moment in progressive constitutionalism without engaging a stock narrative given iconic articulation more than a decade ago by originalist scholar Randy Barnett. According to this narrative, conservatives in the 1980s, prodded by Edwin Meese III's Justice Department, rallied around originalism, and particularly "original intentions" originalism, as a politically congenial and intellectually satisfying approach to constitutional interpretation. They were defeated in the courts of academic and political opinion due in part to a series of unanswerable criticisms from liberal legal scholars such as Paul Brest and H. Jefferson Powell, and in part to the well-publicized failure of originalist judge Robert Bork to win confirmation to the Supreme Court.
How Constitutional Theory Matters,
Ohio St. L. J.
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