Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is drawing fire from legal colleagues for his characterization of the U.S. Constitution as a â€œdeadâ€ document â€” that is, judges should not take it upon themselves to interpret its clauses via modern meanings.
â€œItâ€™s not a living document,â€ Mr. Scalia said Monday, during a Southern Methodist University appearance, according to reports in the Dallas Morning News. â€œItâ€™s dead, dead, dead.â€
Mr. Scalia, a Ronald Reagan-appointee, has always maintained an originalism view of the Constitution â€” one that holds fast to the need to interpret the text as the Founding Fathers intended at the time.
â€œI deny the premise that law has nothing to do with historical inquiry,â€ he said, during an April 2010 appearance at the University of Virginia School of Law, according to postings on the universityâ€™s website. â€œHistorical inquiry has nothing to do with the law only if the original meaning is irrelevant.â€
On Tuesday, a day after Mr. Scalia again emphasized that view, legal scholars scoffed.
â€œI think that it is a bit disingenuous in that he, Scalia, understands that his personal views play an important role in shaping and informing,â€ yet also says judgesâ€™ beliefs shouldnâ€™t be tainted by modern-day events and culture, said Yale Law School professor Peter Schuck, in a story from Politico.
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