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Constitutional Interpretation and Change:
A Conference on Jack Balkin’s Living Originalism

Room 127
Registration Room 122
April 27, 2012 – April 28, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

8:00am-9:00am Breakfast/Registration

9:00am-9:15am Introduction

9:15am-11:00am Panel One: Living Originalism: A Contradiction in Terms?

  • Neil Siegel (Duke): Jack Balkin’s Rich Historicism and Diet Originalism: Health Benefits and Risks for the Constitutional System
  • Justin Driver (Texas, New Republic): Does Originalism Have What Liberals Want?
  • Jeffrey Rosen (GW, New Republic): Substance versus Method in Constitutional Interpretation

                        Moderator/Discussant: Robert Post (Dean, Yale Law School)

11:15am-12:45pm Panel Two: Journalism and Constitutional Interpretation

Living Originalism argues that the standard case of constitutional interpretation is interpretation by citizens, not by courts, and that all Americans have the duty to interpret the Constitution for themselves. It also argues that the distinction between originalism and living constitutionalism is a false choice.

How do or should journalists think about constitutional interpretation (as opposed to judges and courts)? How do they explain competing theories of constitutional interpretation to the public? How do they interpret the Constitution themselves? Who do they talk to about constitutional interpretation? What do they read?

  • Joan Biskupic (Reuters News)
  • Linda Greenhouse (Yale, NY Times)
  • Charlie Savage (NY Times)
  • Dahlia Lithwick (Slate)             

            Moderator/Provocateur: Garrett Epps, (University of Baltimore, American Prospect)

12:45pm  Lunch

2:00pm-3:45pm Panel Three: Constitutional Construction 

  • Bruce Ackerman (Yale): Deconstructing Constitutional Construction
  • Reva Siegel (Yale): Sex Equality and Constitutional Change: What Movement/Party Conflict Explains and Originalism Does Not
  • Michael McConnell (Stanford): Originalism and Precedent
  • Barry Friedman (NYU) and Sara Aronchick Solow (Clerk 3rd Cir.): How to Read the Constitution

                        Moderator/Discussant: Sanford Levinson (Texas)

4:00pm-5:30pm Panel Four: Journalism and Constitutional Change

Living Originalism argues that constitutional change outside the amendment process enjoys democratic legitimacy because social and political mobilizations, political parties, civil society organizations, and litigation campaigns, reshaping the boundaries of what is considered reasonable or plausible, move arguments from "off the wall" to "on the wall," and influence constitutional culture.

Journalism and media are important aspects of civil society. What role do journalists and the profession of journalism play in processes of constitutional change?

  • Emily Bazelon (Yale, Slate)
  • Barry Friedman (NYU)
  • Reihan Salam (National Review Online, The Daily)
  • Jeffrey Rosen (GW, New Republic)

                        Moderator/Provocateur: Steven Teles (Johns Hopkins)

6pm   Speaker Dinner

Saturday, April 28th

8:00am - 9:15am Breakfast/Registration

9:15am-11:00am Panel Five: Comparative and Historical Perspectives on Living Originalism

  • Sujit Choudhry (NYU): “Our Law” and Comparative Constitutional Law: Living Originalism and Dialogical Engagement
  • Kim Scheppele (Princeton): Jack Balkin is an American
  • Akhil Amar (Yale): The Yale School of Constitutional Theory
  • Michael Greve (American Enterprise Institute): What was Orginalism?

                        Moderator/Discussant: Linda Greenhouse (Yale, NY Times)

11:15am-12:45pm Panel Six: Journalism and the Constitution outside the Courts

Living Originalism argues that "living constitutionalism" is an elaborate interaction between constitutional arguments made within the courts and constitutional arguments made outside of them; it also argues that much constitutional change is driven by political and cultural forces beyond the judiciary.

How do journalists engage (or affect) the public in understanding the Constitution outside of the courts? This includes not only the work of Congress and the President, but state courts, political parties, NGOs, social movements, and public opinion. What is the difference between covering the courts and covering the Constitution?

  • Emily Bazelon (Yale, Slate)
  • Linda Greenhouse (Yale, NY Times)
  • Adam Liptak (NY Times)
  • Charlie Savage (NY Times)

                       Moderator/Provocateur: Reva Siegel (Yale)

1:00 pm-2:30pm Lunch: Author's Question Time

A panel of journalists asks the author difficult questions over lunch 

            Jack Balkin


  • Justin Driver (Texas, New Republic)
  • Adam Liptak (NY Times)
  • Armando Llorens (Daily Kos)
  • Reihan Salam (National Review Online, The Daily) 

2:30pm End of Conference 

7:00pm Speaker Dinner