Which Constitution Is Amy Coney Barrett Talking About?
Her originalism ignores the significance of the second American Revolution.
Originalism maintains both that the constitutional text means what it did at the time it was ratified and that this original public meaning is authoritative. This theory stands in contrast to those that treat the Constitution’s meaning as susceptible to evolution over time.
that the amendments should not be seen simply as an alteration of an existing structure but as a “second founding,” a “constitutional revolution,” in the words of Republican leader Carl Schurz, that created a fundamentally new document with a new definition of both the status of blacks and the rights of all Americans.
asserted federal authority to create a new, uniform definition of citizenship and announced that being a citizen — or, in some cases, simply residing in the country — carried with it rights that could not be abridged. It proclaimed that everyone in the United States was to enjoy a modicum of equality, ultimately protected by the national government.
Slavery, Bradley observed, “extended its influence in every direction, depressing and disenfranchising the slave and his race in every possible way.” Abolition meant not merely “striking off the fetters” but destroying “the incidents and consequences of slavery” and guaranteeing the freed people “the full enjoyment of civil liberty and equality.”