Originalism is nothing new. And the New Jersey Supreme Court’s 1780 decision in Holmes v. Walton shows it. In that case, the New Jersey Supreme Court disallowed a state law as repugnant to the state constitution because the law permitted a jury of only six to render a judgment. To reach that result, the court looked to the fixed, original meaning of the jury trial guarantee embedded in the state constitution, and it then constrained its interpretive latitude in conformity with that fixed meaning. Holmes thus cuts against the common misconception that originalism as an interpretive methodology is a modern development.
Justin W. Aimonetti,
Holmes v. Walton and its Enduring Lessons for Originalism,
106 Marq. L. Rev. 73
Available at: https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol106/iss1/7
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