Amy Coney Barrett, who is the US Supreme Court nominee is widely expected to be confirmed by Republican lawmakers before the 3rd November US election. She has described her legal philosophy as originalism. It can also be described as interpreting the country’s Constitution as per the intentions of its 18th-century founding leaders.
The Conservative judge was asked earlier this week during her confirmation hearing what according to her is meant to be an originalist. Barrett answered that in English, it means she interprets the Constitution as a law. She said that she understands it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. She added that it does not change over time, and it is not up to her to update it or infuse her own views into it.
Barrett who is 48 years old, is likely to be the third judge who President Donald Trump will appoint to the country’s 9-member top court. Barett will replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month at 87. She having served on the bench for 27 years.
The legal philosophy of a US Supreme court judge has a major impact on divisive and consequential issues facing the country. These are issues such as gun control, abortion, healthcare, and voting rights.
Meaning Of Originalism
In legal philosophy, this theory states that while resolving disputes, judges should interpret the constitution as it was understood at the time of its signing. And irrespective of whether they personally agree or disagree with the outcome of a case’s decision this way.
Originalists feel that the meaning of the constitution was fixed at the time of its framing. This was either in the form of the meaning of the words, or the intentions of the drafters. The job of the court is to stick to this original meaning of the constitution.
People who believe in this concept of originalism hold the view that social change should be brought about by new laws made by elected representatives. This should not be through judicial activism. Judicial activism is one in which judges make new interpretations of the constitution.
Some feel that it is just another name for the right-wing political agenda. They have accused that the originalists are trying to gnaw at the hard-earned social reforms. They are doing this by applying old beliefs of the 18th and 19th centuries to modern-day legal disputes.
Originalists dismiss these accusations and claim that it is the method which in fact delivers less biased decisions. Originalism is a theory that focuses on the process and not on substance. A good originalist judge will not hesitate to protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution’s original meaning. This is regardless of contemporary political consequences.