January 23, 06

Vol. 21 , No. 05   


View Entire Issue (Vol. 21 , No. 05)


Antonin Scalia's Jurisprudence: Text and Tradition
RALPH ROSSUM P'01, P'08
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2006

Justice Antonin Scalia is an eloquent defender of textualism — an "original meaning" interpretive approach that accords primacy to the text and tradition of the Constitution or the statute being interpreted and that declares it is the duty of the judge to apply that text when it is clear or the specific legal tradition flowing from that text (i.e., what it meant to the society that adopted it) when it is not. He is an equally fierce critic of judicial activism and what he terms the "Living Constitution" — an interpretive approach that asserts that the meaning of a law "grows and changes from age to age, in order to meet the needs of a changing society" and that it is appropriate for the judge to "determine those needs and 'find' that changing law." Professor Rossum will explore Scalia's textualist approach to such key structural arrangements as separation of powers and federalism and to such key constitutional provisions as the free speech, press, and religious clauses of the First Amendment; the vaious criminal procedural provisions of Amendments Four through Eight, the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the right to privacy.

Ralph A. Rossum is the Director of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government and the Henry Salvatori Professor of American Constitutionalism at Claremont McKenna College. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is the author or co-author of nine books (including American Constitutional Law (1983) —a two-volume work now in the sixth edition—and most recently Antonin Scalia's Jurisprudence: Text and Tradition (2006) and over 65 book chapters and articles in law reviews and professional journals. He was appointed by Secretary of Education Rod Paige as a member of the National Board of the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) in the U.S. Department of Education, and he serves as chairman of the Council of Scholars and a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Liberal Education.