Posner on Scalia: The Flaws in Constitutional Originalism


Richard A. Posner, a judge and economist, has written a very good review of a recent book by Antonin Scalia.

It is a very interesting (if long) piece, and well worth your time. Posner argues that textual originalism is impotent – if not entirely illusory – because, absent interpretation, texts have no meaning. Recourse to dictionary definitions doesn’t redeem the paradigm either: they are decided by committee, through inevitably flawed processes of interpretation.

Hewing to a concept like textual originalism is at worst a poorly veiled attempt to disguise ideologically motivated decision making in a filigree of intellectualism. It is at best a trap-door to hypocrisy and incoherence.