Originalism and the Two Narratives of Halbig

Halbig v. Burwell, the ACA subsidies case, has two competing narratives.  In one version, it is an epic battle between textualism and contextualism.  The statute (says one side) clearly says subsidies are available only for insurance exchanges “established by [a] State” and the federal exchange is obviously not established by a state.  But (says the other side) surely Congress could not have intended a situation in which subsidies were not available on the federal exchange, so to make sense of the statute one should not read it narrowly but with regard to what makes the most sense of Congress’ intent.

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National ‘Harmony': An Inter-Branch Constitutional Principle and its Application to Diversity Jurisdiction

Jesse Cross (Independent) has posted National ‘Harmony': An Inter-Branch Constitutional Principle and its Application to Diversity Jurisdiction (Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 93, p. 501, 2014, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Most constitutional interpretation continues, in the words of John Hart Ely, to be “clause-bound” in nature: it presumes that each constitutional clause can be studied…

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ISIS and War Powers

Recent events in Iraq seem to pose a challenge to a limited view of presidential war powers.  Suppose, the argument runs, a fast moving threat to U.S. national security arises quickly, at a time when Congress is not meeting.  Containing the threat depends on a fast response — but if the President must get Congress’ approval to act, action will come too late.  

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The Meaning of “Natural Born”: What if Blackstone Was Wrong?

In thinking about the phrase “natural born Citizen” in the Constitution’s eligibility clause, I have assumed (1) that it follows from the English law phrase “natural born subject” and (2) that “natural born subject” at minimum meant anyone born within sovereign territory (apart from children of invaders and diplomats).  The latter point seems clear from Blackstone, who says as much, quite clearly. 

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Jack Balkin: How Liberals Can Reclaim the Constitution

I’m all for using originalism to reach liberal results — I think that’s the best way to defend originalism from the charge that it’s no more than cover for a conservative agenda.

But Balkin seems to go to the opposite extreme, and find that (his version of) originalism always (or almost always) leads to liberal results.

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Can the House Sue the President (More Seriously this Time)?

I can accept, as an original matter, the general proposition that the “Case or Controversy” language means at minimum that everyone can’t sue everyone for everything. How modern standing law derives its particular intricacies from this basic proposition is a mystery to me. But that doesn’t matter in this case, which seems fundamentally about an abstract injury common to everyone.

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