Columbia Public Law & Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



This Article considers the future of originalism in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. It argues that, although Heller is in many ways a triumph for proponents of originalism, it might also represent a high water mark for the doctrine and for the political movement that supports it. There is little reason to believe that the cases of relative first impression that originalism feeds on will be readily available in the near future, and the politics of the Court and of the country do not augur the appointment of additional originalist judges. These observations recommend that progressive advocates focus on availing themselves of the nation’s ethical shift to themes of change and mutual responsibility, so as to emphasize the Constitution’s dynamic future rather than its static past.

Date of Authorship for this Version

Summer 6-24-2009