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Interpretive Methodology: Originalism versus an Evolving Constitution

By Jacob P. Perkinson


During my freshman seminar on the Supreme Court and the Constitution, I was fascinated by the case Marbury v. Madison in which the Supreme Court assumed the power to interpret the meaning of the Constitution. I was interested in where the Court draws the legitimate authority to say what the law is. For my summer project, I built on this interest and researched how the Court decides what the Constitution means. Enforcing the Constitution is not a straightforward task; it does not spell out the law for every situation– indeed much interpretation is left up to the Supreme Court. In Federalist 37 James Madison writes that, “No language is so copious as to supply words and phrases for every complex idea, or so correct as to not include many equivocally denoting different ideas” (Madison). It is clear that the vague language of the Constitution leaves much to be “fixed” in future generations. I researched the contending theories of how modern courts should apply text from 1788 to law today.College of William and Mary, Roy C. Charles Center, Sharpe Community Scholars Progra

Topics: Constitution
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:digitalarchive.wm.edu:10288/676
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