Originalism Quiz

Multiple choice. Which of the following are views an originalist is committed to?

1 ) The Constitution is an evolving document

2 ) We should return to the social order of the 18th century because it was close to perfect, and the problems associated with slavery and the oppression of women are just liberal exaggerations

3 ) African-Americans have a right to respond to racist violence with force if necessary

4 ) State governments should be allowed to impose religious views on their people because the Founders were Christians

5 ) The Fourth Amendment cannot protect you from police wiretapping, because the Founders did not know what wiretaps were

6 ) It is a profound lesson of the Vietnam War that no one should be required to fight in a war, when they had no say in whether or not it was to be waged

7 ) The ultimate source of Constitutional authority is a body of timeless political truths, discovered by the Founders in the 18th century

8 ) The ultimate source of Constitutional authority is the people’s will

9 ) 1, 3, 6 and 8

10 ) 2, 4, 5 and 7

The answer, of course, is “9.” If you said “10” you need a primer on originalism. That will be the subject of my next post. Whether originalism is correct or not is a separate question.


[hat tip? James Kloppenberg, for the phrase “Some conservatives invoked the notion of an unchanging Constitution, the ‘original meaning’ of which […]” in Reading Obama, p. 41. These conservatives also ride unicorns; there is one available for each of them.]


One comment on “Originalism Quiz

  1. Pliny the Elder says:

    People tend to forget that (at least for lawyers and judges) originalism is an interpretive approach not a set of substantive commitments. One could believe that originalism was the correct interpretive approach and detest the results. I think as an empirical matter folks gravitate towards interpretive approaches that more or less support their desired substantive results, but not always. Consider, for instance, Scalia’s comments on flag burning as protected expression.

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