Iredell's strict construtionism
s-gerber at onu.edu
Tue Jul 13 06:29:37 PDT 2010
Most constitutional law casebooks include the famous exchange about constitutional interpretation between Samuel Chase and James Iredell in Calder v. Bull. Iredell expressed the same commitment to strict constructionism a decade earlier in his widely cited letter to Richard Dobbs Spaight in August 1787. Iredell insisted that the Constitution then being written in Philadelphia would not be "a mere imaginary thing about which ten thousand different opinions may be formed, but a written document to which all may have recourse, and to which, therefore, the judges cannot witfully blind themselves."
I mention this only because someone brought it to my attention, I find it interesting, and it demonstrates once again that there is much to learn about Supreme Court justices from what they have said or written before ascending to the bench, their frequent claims to the contrary notwithstanding.
Scott Douglas Gerber
(on leave during 2009-10 at Brown University's Political Theory Project)
Professor of Law
Ohio Northern University
Ada, OH 45810
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