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TAKING TEXT AND STRUCTURE REALLY SERIOUSLY:



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TAKING TEXT AND STRUCTURE REALLY SERIOUSLY 1995 1 Originally published at 74 Tex L Rev 237 1995 Copyright 1995 by Jordan Steiker Sanford Levinson and Jack M Balkin All rights reserved TAKING TEXT AND STRUCTURE REALLY SERIOUSLY CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION AND THE CRISIS OF PRESIDENTIAL ELIGIBILITY Jordan Steikera1 Sanford Levinsonaa1 J M Balkinaaa1 237 Throwing down the gauntlet at the entire community of constitutional scholars the editors of Constitutional Commentary at the University of Minnesota Law School have recently announced what could be the most earth shaking discovery in constitutional law since Marbury 1 George Washington the Father of Our Country was constitutionally ineligible to become president of the United States 2 As the editors point out the argument is quite straightforward 3 especially for those who have drunk deeply from the well of Justice Scalia s plain meaning approach to legal interpretation 4 But we think a1 Professor of Law University of Texas School of Law aa1 W St John Garwood and W St John Garwood Jr Centennial Chair in Law University of Texas School of Law aaa1 Lafayette S Foster Professor of Law Yale Law School and Sometime Visiting Professor University of Texas School of Law 1 Contest Was George Washington Constitutional 12 CONST COMMENTARY 137 137 1995 hereinafter Contest 2 Id 3 Id 4 See WILLIAM N ESKRIDGE JR DYNAMIC STATUTORY INTERPRETATION 38 1994 The simplest version of textualism is enforcement of the plain meaning of the statutory provision that is given the ordinary meanings of words and accepted precepts of grammar and syntax what does the provision signify to the reasonable person 1 2 TAKING TEXT AND STRUCTURE REALLY SERIOUSLY 1995 their argument is equally compelling for legal scholars who profess any allegiance to the values of traditional legal craft As Professor Laurence Tribe has recently and eloquently reminded us the traditional lawyer s tools of parsing text intention and structure are essential to avoid the



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