Second amendment thread

RJLipkin at RJLipkin at
Wed Apr 18 10:49:02 PDT 2007

In a message dated 4/18/2007 1:42:17 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
mpollack at writes:

Anyone  who wants to tie the current meaning of a Constitutional Text to the 
"public  meaning" at any historical period should (but seldom does) supply 
evidence  from publicly read documents -- Like newspapers.  I did this with the  
so-called Intellectual Property Clause and Randy Barnett did it with the  
commerce clause. 

Although such evidence might be helpful, I doubt it can be  dispositive just 
as if someone currently tried to understand critical terms by  reading public 
documents. Indeed, "public-meaning" theorists, in my view, first  need a 
theory of meaning, that is, of current meaning, then they must apply it  to the 
past. I do not think--of course, I can be wrong--that there is any  originalist 
who first consults the philosophy of language and meaning or  constructs a 
theory of meaning on his or her own, and then applies it to the  past. Moreover, 
it's not clear to me that even if one has a theory of current  meaning that 
that theory applies without alteration to the past.  


Robert Justin  Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of  Law

Ratio Juris
,  Contributor: _ 
Essentially Contested  America, Editor: 
_ ( 

************************************** See what's free at
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the Conlawprof mailing list