Democrats need a better counter to "originalism"

Living constitutionalists rightly regard originalism as a straitjacket that constricts the policy options available to contemporary leaders, and has the cumulative effect of trapping the United States in a series of catastrophe loops, like the inability to address gun violence due to a particularly strained “originalist” reading of the 2nd Amendment, itself a painfully ambiguous, dreadfully written mess. Despite ample evidence that the Constitution’s authors had no intention of giving every individual American the right to kit themselves out in more firepower than a British regiment, Barrett’s allies on the Supreme Court have imposed an absurd regime of limitless violence on this country, repeatedly overturning state and local laws and letting an epidemic of shootings continue indefinitely.

Why don’t Democrats pull a page from the impeachment playbook and designate some of their time in these hearings to a genuine constitutional expert like Karlan, who could corner Barrett on the true, terrifying implications of strict originalism and also begin the arduous process of getting all members of the Democratic coalition on the same page about the philosophy? Nine minutes of listening to her talk about a progressive judicial philosophy would be worth more to the long-term fortunes of Democrats and progressives than passing 5-minute speaking slots around to a functionally random assortment of Democratic senators to make the same points over and over again.

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