Tenth Annual Constitution Day Lecture: Ralph Rossum presents 'Justice Clarence Thomas and Jurisprudence of Constitutional Restoration'

2014-09-22 by

Please join Ralph Rossum as he delivers the Tenth Annual Constitution Day Lecture.

As he approaches a quarter century of service on the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas has consistently pursued an original general meaning approach to constitutional interpretation. He has been unswayed by the claims of precedent–by the gradual build-up of interpretations that, over time, can distort the original meaning of the constitutional provision in question and lead to muddled decisions and contradictory conclusions.

As with too many layers of paint on a delicately crafted piece of furniture, precedent based on preceden (focusing on what the Court said the Constitution means in past cases as opposed to focusing on what the Constitution actually means) hides the constitutional nuance and detail he wants to restore. Thomas is unquestionably the justice who is most willing to reject this build-up, this excrescence, and to call on his colleagues to join him in scraping away past precedent and getting back to bare wood–to the original general meaning of the Constitution.

This Constitution Day lecture will show how Thomas, in his many of opinions reflecting on the original text of the Constitution (the Commerce Clause of Article I § 8 and the Ex Post Facto Clauses of Articles I §§ 9 and 10) and the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth, and Tenth Amendments, has consistently sought to restore the original general meaning of the Constitution and, by so doing, has sought to secure for us the rights and liberties the founding generation fought the Revolutionary War to establish.



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UAA Department of Political Science
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Political Science Lecture Series
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