Pulitzer Prize winning author Jack Rakove will discuss "The Poverty of Public Meaning Originalism"
The lecture will critically discuss the currently fashionable, "public meaning" theory of constitutional interpretation which suggests that the best way to reconstruct the original meaning of the Constitution is to imagine how a somewhat neutral but informed and literate observer would have read the language of the constitutional text.
Jack Rakove is the William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies, and professor of Political Science and (by courtesy) of Law at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1980. He studied at Haverford College, the University of Edinburgh, and Harvard, where he earned his Ph. D. in 1975. His major fields of research include the political history of the American Revolution, the origins and interpretation of the Constitution, and the career and thought of James Madison. He is the author of five books, including Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1997, and Revolutionaries: Inventing an American Nation, which will appear next spring. His edited works include Interpreting the Constitution: The Debate over Original Intent, and The Unfinished Election of 2000. He has written numerous op-eds on constitutional issues for such newspapers as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, and recently authored historians' amicus curiae briefs in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and D. C. v. Heller. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and was also the historical consultant on the PBS sponsored cartoon series, Liberty's Kids. He lives on the Stanford campus with his wife, Helen, an attorney in San Jose.
In 1997, Rakove won the Pulitzer Prize for History for Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (Alfred Knopf, 1996), which cast serious doubt on whether originalism is a viable theory of interpreting the Constitution. He is also the author of The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress (Alfred Knopf, 1979), James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic (revised edition, Addison, Wesley, Longman, 2001), and Declaring Rights: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford Books, 1997).
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The University of San Diego School of Law is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider and certifies that this activity is approved for one hour of general credit.