Lecture on Late Justice Scalia’s Controversial “Originalist” Method of Interpreting the Constitution

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The Academy at Johns Hopkins will hold a public lecture on the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s controversial “originalist” method of interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

The keynote address will be delivered by Professor Michael Dorf of the Cornell Law School, a leading scholar and teacher of American Constitutional Law. The title of his talk is, “Does the Dead Constitution have a Future? Reflections on the Legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia.” Professor Emeritus Joel Grossman of Johns Hopkins will introduce Professor Dorf. Professor Maxwell Stearns of the University of Maryland Law School will provide the response.

Professor Dorf’s lecture will address the impact of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on the decisions of an eight member Supreme Court, and more broadly Justice Scalia’s influence on how the Court decided major constitutional cases during his nearly 30 years on the bench. Dorf will examine the controversial doctrine of “Originalism,” most closely associated with Scalia, and the underlying philosophical and political issues it raises. How should the Constitution be interpreted? Is it a “live” body of admonitions to guide the Court and the nation after 229 years, subject to judicial updating to keep it in touch with the modern era, or is it (in Scalia’s own words) a “dead constitution” to be interpreted and applied only in accord with its original meaning and intent? Will originalism survive Scalia? Should originalism itself be interpreted strictly or loosely? How do we resolve the inherent conflict between originalism and the rule of precedent, stare decisis?

Join us at 8 p.m., Tuesday, October 18, in 210 Hodson Hall on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus. The event is free and open to the public.