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Methods of InterpretationHow the Supreme Court Reads the Constitution$
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Lackland H. Bloom Jr

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377118

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377118.001.0001

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Original Understanding

Original Understanding

Contemporaneous Understanding and Interpretive Issues

(p.93) four Original Understanding
Methods of Interpretation

Lackland H. Bloom

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the Court's use of sources of original understanding contemporaneous with enactment of the constitutional provision in question, along with a variety of issues that the Court has confronted in using original understanding. It discusses the use of contemporaneous dictionaries, state constitutions and practices; Congressional and Executive practices; judicial understanding; and the views of prominent figures such as Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Story. It then considers issues raised by unsourced original understanding, the use of original understanding to illuminate purpose, dueling histories, revising history, original understanding as a method of exclusion, inconclusive original understanding, broad principles v specific conceptions, the need to take account of change, and unacceptable outcomes.

Keywords:   practice, dictionaries, state constitutions, state practice, judicial understanding, broad principle, specific conception, framers

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