Researching the Original Understanding

by Rob Natelson
Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence
The Independence Institute

[Free! -- Get a word-seachable PDF file of John Worrall’s 1788 Bibliography of English Law Books: click here.]

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Lawyers are not necessarily historians, and sometimes it shows.

Unlocking the understanding behind the Constitution’s words is obviously of critical importance in constitutional law. Yet legal writers often make arguments or reach conclusions based on astonishingly few sources. Often they misinterpret the sources they do use. Among the malefactors, alas, are some Supreme Court justices and contributors to the nation’s most prestigious law reviews.

In an effort to raise the quality of originalist research, I’ve written this essay to introduce legal writers to the range of relevant material available. . . .

See this ENTIRE essay in PDF form here.