The US Constitution — as originally written and ratified — did NOT include freedom of speech or the press or religion or assembly or any of the other specific rights enumerated in the Bill Of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Did you catch that word — “amendments”? The Constitution’s framers built the framework with various means to alter and improve the Constitution because they knew at the start (they argued about it relentlessly!) that the work of crafting it was not nearly finished and might never be. The Constitution’s framers knew as they were framing it that the Constitution would always be a work in progress.
Originalism has two fatal flaws (at least).
The first is the ludicrous (and, frankly, offensive) notion that we have to understand laws only as they were understood by the men who wrote them regardless of the fact that the circumstances under which they lived (and under which they wrote the law) and the circumstances under which WE live are totally different. Originalism compounds the ludicrousness by pretending it can creep inside the minds of the framers where, originalism assures us, they wanted this document to be followed to the letter no matter what.
The very existence of the Bill Of Rights trashes that idea completely. James Madison, future 4th POTUS but, at the founding a member of the brand new House of Representatives, put the Bill Of Rights before the brand new American Congress on June 8, 1789. Having seen the original document’s flaws and deficiencies, Madison stressed “…that the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.”
Even the original originalists didn’t go along with originalism.
Second fatal flaw — arguing that we’re bound to a document written by white, Christian, land-owning men who thought only white, Christian, land-owning men had rights is such a white, Christian, land-owning man thing to argue. The rules were set in stone by rule makers who wrote the rules strictly for their benefit. To go along with that kind of thinking would make everyone not white, Christian, land-owning and male a member of a permanent under-class — without many rights to “speak of”. Well, screw that!
Originalists pick n choose the Constitution the way they pick n choose which Biblical passages to follow.
Perhaps the biggest, most important, most far-reaching decision originalist di tutti originalists Antonin Scalia ever wrote was “Bush v Gore”, the SCOTUS decision that stopped the recount in Florida and literally HANDED the 2000 election to George W. Bush regardless of the fact that Democratic votes in Florida remained uncounted and — most importantly — Bush had lost the popular vote by a ton. Antonin Scalia took a huge, steaming dump on James Madison’s idea that a Government “inadequate to the purposes of its institution” had rights greater than the Peoples’.
In handing the election to Bush, Scalia noted that he was stepping outside the boundaries of originalism — just this once but that we weren’t going to be allowed EVER to step outside those boundaries ever again. Only originalist Scalia could set originalism aside — so as to protect originalism’s tender illusion of relevance. Horse. Shit.
No — worse than horse shit. Bullshit.