Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1999


The received wisdom among law professors is that originalism is dead, having been defeated in intellectual combat sometime in the eighties. According to this story, Edwin Meese and Robert Bork proposed that the Constitution be interpreted according to the original intentions of its framers. Their view was trounced by many academic critics, perhaps most notably by Paul Brest in his widely-cited 1980 Boston University Law Review article, The Misconceived Quest for Original Understanding, and by H. Jefferson Powell in his 1985 Harvard Law Review article, The Original Understanding of Original Intent. Taken together, these and other articles represent a two-pronged attack on originalism that was perceived at the time as devastating. As a method of constitutional interpretation, originalism was both unworkable and itself contrary to the original intentions of the founders.

Publication Citation

45 Loy. L. Rev. 611-654 (1999)