Volume 2016, No. 4

Living to Fight Another Day: Judicial Deferral in Defense of Democracy by Rosalind Dixon & Samuel Issacharoff

The Five Justices of Contract Law by Todd D. Rakoff

The Costs of Staying Put: The Stay-Put Provision’s Competing Interpretations and Financial Implications by James Radcliffe

Decency, Evolved: The Eighth Amendment Right to Transition in Prison by Dan Schneider

Originalism, Natural Born Citizens, and the 1790 Naturalization Act: A Reply to Saul Cornell

Michael D. Ramsey

In his essay, The 1790 Naturalization Act and the Original Meaning of the Natural Born Citizen Clause: A Short Primer on Historical Method and the Limits of Originalism, Professor Saul Cornell uses the debate over the Constitution’s natural born citizen clause to illustrate what he regards as the shortcomings of originalist methodology. He makes three main points: (1) that historians’ methodology is different from and superior to the approach of originalist legal scholars; (2) that originalist scholars have reached an erroneously broad reading of the 1790 Naturalization Act; and (3) that, as a result, originalist scholars have misread the natural born citizen clause. I believe each of these points is mistaken. This response addresses them in turn.