SLevinson at MAIL.LAW.UTEXAS.EDU
Fri Nov 15 14:09:44 PST 2002
Just in case it doesn't go without saying, let me reiterate that I think it
is basically irrelevant what people in the 18th century thought certain
words meant. In fact, I think it is always dicey when political liberals
try to beat originalists at their own game, not least because it tends to
reinforce the signifiance of originalist argument. I was doubly appalled
at some of the arguments made by my friends with regard to the meaning of
the impeachment clause, both because I think the "meaning" of the office of
the presidency has been utterly transformed between 1787 and the present
and because I think they were implicitly conceding the theoretical claims
of originalists for priority.
But the remarks above have nothing to do with the historical inquiry as to
what the original audience would, most likely, have believed was meant by
"commerce" (or, two centuries earlier, "nunnery").
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