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Feinstein: Gorsuch’s ‘Originalist’ Doctrine ‘Really Troubling’ – Originalism Would Have Allowed Segregation

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During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch on Monday, Ranking Member Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said she was troubled by Gorsuch’s “originalist” judicial philosophy, and that “if we were to dogmatically adhere to originalist interpretations, then we would still have segregated schools and bans on interracial marriage, women wouldn’t be entitled to equal protection under the law, and government discrimination against LGBT Americans would be permitted.”

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Feinstein said, “Judge Gorsuch has also stated that he believes judges should look to the original public meaning of the Constitution when they decide what a provision of the Constitution means. This is personal, but I find this originalist judicial philosophy to be really troubling. In essence, it means the judges and courts should evaluate our constitutional rights and privileges as they were understood in 1789. However, to do so, would not only ignored the intent of the framers, that the Constitution would be a framework on which to build, but it severely limit the genius of what our Constitution upholds. I firmly believe the American Constitution is a living document, intended to evolve as our country evolves. In 1789, a population of the United States was under 4 million. Today, we’re 325 million and growing. At the time of our founding, African-Americans were enslaved. it was not so long after women had been burned at the stake for witchcraft, and the idea of an automobile, let alone the Internet, was unfathomable. In fact, if we were to dogmatically adhere to originalist interpretations, then we would still have segregated schools and bans on interracial marriage, women wouldn’t be entitled to equal protection under the law, and government discrimination against LGBT Americans would be permitted. So I am concerned when I hear that Judge Gorsuch is an originalist and a strict constructionist.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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