Originalism: A Debate – Should the U.S. Constitution be interpreted according to its Original Public Meaning?

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It was over three decades ago, when then-Attorney General Ed Meese initiated an important spirited national debate about the proper application of our most important governing document—the U.S. Constitution. Since then, Originalism has emerged as a serious theory of constitutional interpretation that has permeated the judiciary and the academy. Originalists believe that the Constitution and laws should be interpreted based on their actual text and original public meaning. Conversely, proponents of a “Living Constitution,” stress the need to adapt the Constitution “to cope with current problems and current needs.” These two theories will go head-to-head in a spirited debate with two well-known constitutional scholars, John Eastman and Michael Gerhardt.


Edwin Meese lll: Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, The Heritage Foundation

Arguing the Affirmative

John Eastman: Henry Salvatori Professor of Law and Community Service, Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law and Director, Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Claremont Institute

Arguing the Negative

Michael Gerhardt: Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law, University of North Carolina School of Law


John Malcolm: Vice President, Institute for Constitutional Government


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