An Account of Originalism and Natural Law

I’ve been seeing an increasing number of natural law–or natural law-influenced–accounts of various legal disciplines. Something like a newly emerging applied natural law genre. There are property scholars that take a natural law view. There are scholars of legal interpretation strongly influenced by natural law views. There are constitutional scholars whose view of originalism depends upon a natural law view. And there are probably others writing in other fields that I am now forgetting.

Into the last category falls my friend and colleague at Princeton’s James Madison Program this spring, Professor Lee J. Strang. Here is his wonderful looking new book on originalism and natural law, Originalism’s Promise: A Natural Law Account of the American Constitution (Cambridge University Press).

“The foundation of the American legal system and democratic culture is its longstanding written Constitution. However, a contentious debate now exists between Originalists, who employ the Constitution’s original meaning, and Nonoriginalists, who argue for a living constitution interpretation. The first natural law justification for an originalist interpretation of the American Constitution, Originalism’s Promise presents an innovative foundation for originalism and a novel description of its character. Originalism’s Promise provides a deep, rich, and practical explanation of originalism, including the most-detailed originalist theory of precedent in the literature. Of interest to judges, scholars, and lawyers, Originalism’s Promise will help all Americans better understand their own Constitution and shows why their reverence for it, its Framers, and its legal system, is supported by sound reasons. Originalism’s Promise is a powerful contribution to the most important theory in constitutional interpretation.”

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