Friday Question: What Type of Originalist Are You?
Back in the 1980s when Ed Meese and others revived "originalism" as a way to shake off the hangover of the Warren/Burger courts, the focus was on original intent: what were the Founders thinking when they wrote those words? In recent years, the focus of originalism has shifted from the "intent" of the Founders to original public meaning: that is, what did the Constitution's words mean to those who ratified it?
I'm a fan of the newer version, but a recent essay by historian Saul Cornell tries very hard to trash the concept of "original public meaning." His point seems to be that there is so much information potentially bearing on public meaning, it leads to "cherry picking" the evidence to suit your argument. Cornell doesn't particularly like originalism of any kind, but he thinks the "intent" school is less arbitrary. (See comment at NRO).
What do you think? I realize that I'm assuming that my fellow Ricocheterians are broadly sympathetic to "originalism" of some sort, but if not, please jump in and say why.