At dinner last night, Justice Thomas questioned whether he has a judicial philosophy. Thomas said he just tries to decide constitutional cases by sticking close to the Constitution. Of course that approach is itself is a judicial philosophy. Thomas’s point, I’m guessing, is that the approach is so obvious that it shouldn’t rise to the level of a philosophy.
In fact, though, Thomas’s philosophy is sufficiently controversial to warrant a fancy name — originalism. One of its leading exponents is Steven Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern and a co-founder of The Federalist Society. Calabresi presents an explanation and defense of originalism in this piece in the Wall Street Journal. He writes:
[T]he long-accepted rule for interpreting legal texts is to construe them to have the original public meaning that they had when they were enacted into law. This is the way we interpret statutes, contracts, wills and even old Supreme Court opinions.
No leftist ever says of Roe v. Wade: Let