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Paper examines theories behind historical interpretation of Constitution

October 30, 2009

Jamal Greene, associate professor of law at Columbia University School of Law, recently presented his paper “On the Origins of Originalism,” as part of the 2009-10 Working Paper Series in the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.

In his presentation, Greene questions why the “originalist” approach to constitutional interpretation is so much more popular in the United States than in other countries with similar political and legal traditions.

Greene offers six hypotheses to explain why popular and judicial culture are drawn to historicism in interpreting the U.S. Constitution: the canonizing influence of time; the revolutionary character of American sovereignty; the rights revolution of the Warren and Burger Courts; the politicization of the judicial nomination process in the U.S.; the accommodation of an assimilative, as against a pluralist, ethos; and a relatively evangelical religious culture.

Greene earned his J.D. from Yale in 2005 and clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for the 2005-06 term. In 2006-07, he clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens at the U.S. Supreme Court. Greene now focuses his scholarship primarily on the political constructions of constitutional law. He was recently published in the Yale Law Journal, the Georgetown Law Journal and the Texas Law Review.

For more information on the 2009-10 Working Paper Series, please contact professor Dominique Custos in the College of Law at dcustos@loyno.edu.

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