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Originalism: The legal theory guiding conservative Supreme Court justices, explained

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 26:  The U.S. Supreme Court building on the day it was reported that Associate Justice Stephen Breyer would soon retire on January 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Breyer has been on the court since 1994. His retirement creates an opportunity for President Joe Biden, who has promised to nominate a Black woman for his first pick to the highest court in the country.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 26: The U.S. Supreme Court building on the day it was reported that Associate Justice Stephen Breyer would soon retire on January 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Breyer has been on the court since 1994. His retirement creates an opportunity for President Joe Biden, who has promised to nominate a Black woman for his first pick to the highest court in the country. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: This segment was originally broadcast on July 4, 2022. Find that audio here.

Last month the Supreme Court handed down closely-watched rulings in several cases that included ending the constitutional right to an abortion, expanding the right to carry guns and limiting EPA powers to cut CO2 emissions.

All of these rulings were led by the conservative supermajority on the court, who were guided by the niche judicial philosophy known as “originalism.” What is this theory? Where does it come from? And what could this philosophy mean for the future of the United States of America?

Here & Now‘s Scott Tong talks with Noah Feldman, professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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